In Columbus, the City Council is looking to Congress for help preventing the closure of locks along the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint River Basin.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will close locks to recreational boaters along Lakes Walter F. George, Andrews and Seminole starting on October 7th. The locks allow access for water traffic to move up and down the Chattahoochee River. The Corps’ decision is based on budget cutbacks and the lack of commercial traffic along those routes.
But Columbus’ City Council hopes to build a marina that would boost the city’s economy—Coucilman “Red” McDaniels says closing the locks would cut off access to the Gulf of Mexico and the hook for potential marina investors:
“If they close those locks off to recreational traffic, that’s going to destroy our plans for a marina, because I don’t think anyone’s going to spend 10, 15, 20 million dollars to build a marina if they can’t go all the way to the gulf and then all the way around the world.”
Pat Robbins with the US Army Corps of Engineers says the Corps studied the amount of use that locks received across the country. The locks in question have not had any commercial traffic in three years. He says the decision comes down to money:
“It’s strictly a budget thing, the Corps of Engineer’s budget nationally has been flat now for five or six years and costs keep going up. You have to make the best use of funds that Congress gives you.”
The council approved a resolution to take the matter to Senators Isakson and Chambliss—in hopes that Congress will reverse the Corp’s decision.