A New "New Deal"? Improving infrastructure to boost economy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A New "New Deal"? Improving infrastructure to boost economy

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- In these current tough economic times, the government is looking at spending money on infrastructure improvements as a way to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

"We know that infrastructure improvements not only help us to transport good, services, and people more efficiently, and make us more productive and our economy more productive but they create jobs," Representative Bruce Braley said.

Through federal appropriations, the Army Corps of Engineers is improving the more than 70-year-old lock and dam in Dubuque, and it could improve the local economy.

This isn't the first time Lock and Dam 11 has brought jobs to the tri-states. The lock and dam was built as part of the New Deal, the program to help the country out of the Great Depression. It opened in 1937.

"It accommodates traffic up and down the river. It's not just commercial traffic. Especially in this area, I have three marinas within five miles here, and the recreational traffic in a normal year when we don't have four dollar a gallon gas is utilized tremendously," Lockmaster Jim Piper said.

The river is partially frozen now, but each year the Army Corps of Engineers says around ten thousand boats and barges go through Dubuque's lock and dam.

It's a big project to renovate the lock and dam lasting years and costing more than $70-million making improvements to Lock and Dam 11. Much of that money is going straight to local contractors.

The first two phases: erosion prevention and replacing parts and concrete and steel at the lock, are complete. A nontraditional "groundbreaking" with sledgehammers instead of shovels marks the start of the third phase: an $8.5 million project will renovate the dam with new equipment.

"If they show up, we'll be able to accommodate them, most definitely. We won't have to worry about breakdown and things of that nature that in the past become more and more prevalent," Piper said.

A LaCrosse, Wisconsin contractor will oversee this third phase that's expected to be finished in 2012.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

Powered by Frankly