The Mississippi River Valley region covers approximately 41 percent of the nation over 250 tributaries, and much of the nation's shipping is handled on the Mighty Mississippi. There have been numerous bills introduced in Congress over the years in an attempt to upgrade the aging lock and dam system, but no large-scale renovation plan has been approved yet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says two local lock and dam structures set an example for what the entire system could be.
Mike Petersen, Chief of Public Affairs for the Corps' St. Louis office, says you only need to look at the facility along the Berm Highway in east Alton to see how high the bar has been set.
He says the Lock & Dam 27 at Chain of Rocks is an example of a major rehab in which most major moving parts have been replaced. Earlier this year, Republican U.S. Congressmen Rodney Davis of Champaign launched a caucus to deal with issues up and down the Mississippi River, forming the Mississippi River Valley and Tributaries Caucus - a bi-partisan forum to discuss the importance of the Mississippi River, especially to businesses, employees and families in the 13th District of Illinois.