Illinois congressmen are criticizing the long-delayed Olmsted lock-and-dam project. This is an Ohio River project at Olmsted, Ill., about 15 miles up-river from Cairo. It has been under construction for 19 years and is billions over budget. “This is one thing you can’t blame on Congress,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs). He blames the delay on a new construction technique: Building the project in the water instead of diverting the river to build it in dry conditions.
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The price tag is now $3.1 billion – up from the original $775 million – with half the money coming from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, draining that fund for other projects, says U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). “I don’t know the estimated date of completion, but when that’s done it’s gonna free up some resources for the rest of us that rely on that,” he said. The latest expected completion date is 2024. The project, conceived in 1987, will replace two 1920s-era dams. When this is completed, passage through Olmsted on the Ohio River should be reduced from five hours to less than one.