Fleischmann/Headrick Spar Over Funding for Chickamauga Lock
The 74 year old lock was shut down Monday afternoon while engineers study the problem.
But the lock has also become a hot political issue.
MATT EMMONS, LOCKMASTER, CHICKAMAUGA LOCK "…That channel piece there has a crack across the webbing portion as you can see …That’s the concern and that’s what we’re trying to work as efficiently and safely as we can to repair."
The debate has been going on for years—-what would happen if the Chickamauga lock were to fail?
The short answer has been that it would put as many as 150-thousand trucks on the interstate trying to make up for all the barge traffic.
This was not that serious a failure, but it does entail as long as 3 weeks to evaluate and repair.
Meanwhile the question remains..will the funding be there to finish the partially completed new lock at Chickamauga and maintain this one?
CONGRESSMAN CHUCK FLEISCHMANN, (R) 3RD DISTRICT "There are two locks. The existing lock,the structure that we’re using..and this is the one that’s undergoing maintenance…is fully funded by the appropriations process. "
Fleischmann says the congress has now modified the other funding source—the Inland Waterways Trust which had been using most of the available funding for a dam in Ohio. Now, some of that will be directed to Chickamauga.
But Fleischmann’s democratic opponent in next week’s election is holding him responsible for not working out financing sooner.
DR. MARY HEADRICK, (D) CANDIDATE, 3RD DISTRICT RACE "He should have paid attention to it as soon as he was elected to congress..and it should not have required Bill Taylor and I in 2012 calling attention to the problem."
CONGRESSMAN FLEISCHMANN "This should not be a scare tactic…this should not be a political issue..I’m not going to let anyone make it a political issue."
DR. HEADRICK "In my opinion his attitude has been my way or the highway..and so things haven’t gotten done."
TVA and the Army corps of Engineers will have to keep Chickamauga open for a few more years, according to Congressman Fleischmann.
He says even with full-funding, work on finishing the new lock can’t start for 6 to 8 years.