By Mike Scott
Missouri’s 6th District Congressman Sam Graves toured Lock and Dam 20 at Canton on Friday, August 25. Grave serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Graves’ tour of the 2369-foot long dam, with its 110×600 lock, was led by LD 20 Lockmaster Jim McDaniel and Rock Island District Chief of Locks and Dams Bob Castro. Lock and Dam 20 began construction in 1932, and went into service in 1935. As such, the structure is 82 years old.
“The biggest reason for my visit is to see it in action and see if firsthand. It’s easy to talk about something, but you can be much more persuasive in Congress if you’ve actually seen the operation and the challenges they’re experiencing,” Graves said.
The tour included watching a string of barges and towboat pass through the lock. Because the lock is only 600 feet long, the string of barges had to be broken and move through the lock in two sections, and then be reconnected to continue down the river.
The tour continued out onto the dam, towering over the churning waters of the Mississippi River.
“The biggest thing is what we’ve been fighting for years, and that’s funding for the entire system. We’re seeing a lot of funding getting pulled over to the Ohio River,” said Graves when asked what needed to be done to improve the Lock and Dam System. “For those of us that depend on the Mississippi River to move goods, particularly grain, it’s an uphill battle. We never get enough. It’s going to be constant battle. The Corp does a pretty good job of managing the dollars they have. It an ongoing process of prioritizing the dollars.”
Graves also spoke about the economic impact of the Lock and Dam system. “It’s huge, not only for the jobs, but to the country. Any time you can take hundreds of thousands of trucks off the highway and put the cargo on barges, it helps our highways as well,” he said.