Army Corps details new funding for Great Lakes projects

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(WASHINGTON) — On Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its fiscal year 2023 work plan, detailing final funding levels for Corps projects across the United States. On Thursday, the Corps released a breakout of the Great Lakes navigation projects included in the work plan.

Soo Locks

The work plan includes an additional $67 million for construction of the new lock at Sault Ste Marie, Mich. These funds will join $214.2 million of infrastructure bill money already allocated to the project in FY 2023 by the Biden administration last October. Thus, total FY 2023 funding for the Soo Lock project will be $281.2 million.

As of Friday, total Soo Lock funding stands at $1.65 billion. The project is currently under construction and Congress recently updated its authorization to allow for a total project cost of $3.2 billion.

Great Lakes operations and maintenance (O&M)

The work plan also includes funds for operation and maintenance of Great Lakes navigation projects. These funds include dredging of harbors and connecting channels, repair and reconstruction of breakwaters and jetties, and maintenance work on the Poe, MacArthur, Black Rock and Chicago locks.

President Biden’s budget proposed $205.4 million for various Great Lakes O&M projects. Members of Congress added an additional $49.58 million via earmarks. Finally, the Corps assigned another $87.1 million to Great Lakes projects from so-called “additional funds” provided to the Corps by Congress.

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AGLPA photo

What are “additional funds”? Each year Congress provides the Corps with a slug of money that is unassigned. The intent is to give the agency some flexibility to address last minute needs. In FY 2023, Congress provided the Corps with $352.3 million in additional funds for deep-draft navigation projects. Great Lakes projects received $87.1 million of these funds.

In total, Great Lakes navigation O&M projects received $342.1 million in FY 2023 from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). Since total nationwide appropriations from the HMTF were $2.318 billion in FY 2023, the Great Lakes therefore received 14.7 percent of all HMTF distributions. The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA 2020) requires that no less than 13 percent of annual HMTF expenditures go to projects in the Great Lakes. Therefore, FY 2023 funding far exceeded the 13 percent requirement.

To put this all in perspective, 10 years ago, Great Lakes navigation projects received a total of $87.3 million in O&M funding. This year’s funding level is 292 percent higher.

The American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA) thanked the Great Lakes congressional delegation for its tireless work to improve funding for Great Lakes navigation and eliminate the backlog of Corps maintenance work throughout the region.

To view of chart of annual Great Lakes O&M funding by year over the past 10 years, click here. To view a list of Great Lakes projects funded in the Corps’ FY 2023 work plan, click here.

– American Great Lakes Ports Association

By Rich Miller