U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to dedicate at least $30 million from their budget for infrastructure improvements along the Great Lakes.
The Senators sent the letter, along with Senators Kirk, Levin, Baldwin, Klobuchar, Franken, Brown, Portman, Stabenow, Donnelly, Johnson and Durbin, to push for dedicated Great Lakes funding from the $200 million pot of eligible funding in the USACE budget.
Senators Schumer and Gillibrand successfully fought to boost the USACE's funding levels in the recently-passed budget, with projects like Great Lakes dredging in mind. The Senators argued that the Great Lakes are a critical navigation route for shipping raw materials through the interior of the country, but many areas around ports are desperately in need of dredging, repairs, and infrastructure improvements. Without such repairs, ships will continue to "light-load" and face potential grounding, which slows commerce and can cause some harbors to close.
"The Great Lakes, throughout history, have been an arterial navigation route for our manufacturers and businesses, and we must ensure these critical resources are well-maintained. In particular, an efficient Great Lakes system impacts the delivery of products to market and the ability of businesses in New York to grow - especially at major New York ports on the Lakes like Buffalo, Rochester, Oswego, Dunkirk and Ogdensburg. But the infrastructure that services these ports, and indeed the environment itself, is in need of maintenance to ensure they continue to be a hub for shipping and commerce," said Schumer. "That's why we're urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to direct more funds to Great Lakes dredging and repair projects, particularly given their funding boost in the just-passed appropriations bill."