Governor Authorizes Initial Engineering Work for Brandon Road Lock and Dam to Confront Asian Carp ( 04/27/2019 )
Governor Pritzker has authorized the State of Illinois to move forward with initial engineering work on the construction of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam to address Asian carp, but cautioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that exploding cost estimates require a cost control strategy and additional cost-sharing among states.
"I am committed to protecting Lake Michigan and making the State of Illinois more resilient to a variety of threats, including Asian carp, climate change, flooding, and the risks posed by outdated infrastructure," Gov. Pritzker wrote in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "My administration is ready and willing to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on these issues. I ask that we continue the conversation and include our Great Lakes neighbors, who also recognize the urgency of this issue and are critical strategic and financial partners, as we work to implement a solution that benefits everyone at the table.
In his letter, the governor authorized moving forward with preconstruction, engineering and design for the project at the Des Plaines River. The governor's cost concerns center around the revised projected cost estimate, which has grown from $275 million in 2017 to $778 million today. Gov. Pritzker also reiterated his commitment to finding cost-effective ways to proactively confront the challenges posed by Asian carp.
Senators Durbin and Duckworth issued a joint statement in support of the letter.
"We applaud the Governor for taking this important step that will help advance the Brandon Road project, which we have strongly supported in Congress. Invasive Asian Carp are a serious threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem and the region's economy, and we must do everything in our power to prevent their spread to the precious resources of the Great Lakes. We agree with the Governor that the cost of this project must be shared by the Great Lakes region, and we will continue our work in the Senate to authorize this project under a cost-share agreement that will ensure Illinois isn't stuck with the bill," said U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.
Environmental stakeholders also applauded the action.
"The Alliance for the Great Lakes applauds Governor Pritzker for submitting a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers committing Illinois to moving forward with this important project," said Alliance for the Great Lakes Vice President for Policy Molly Flanagan. "In his letter Governor Pritzker expressed concerns over the current cost estimates for the project. And we share those concerns. Asian carp pose a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes and time is of the essence. We encourage the Great Lake states to work together on this project and urge the federal government to support the project."