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The Staten Island Rapid Transit drawbridge across Arthur Kill, N. Y. and N. J., causes an unreasonable obstruction to modern ships, and its removal as a hazard to navigation has been authorized by Congress. Delays encountered in waiting for favorable daylight tides and costs due to accidents encountered at the bridge are now seriously paralyzing industry located on this waterway. The plans for the new bridge have been completed and are now in the hands of the Chief of Engineers awaiting approval. It is urged that about $2 million be appropriated for the initiation of this work.
The major tanker operators have approximately $1 billion invested in the new supertankers now afloat or under construction. The full value of these tankers to the national economy is not now being realized under the loading handicaps imposed by the channels of inadequate depth and width. In the preceding paragraphs we have requested the improvement of a number of important channels and harbors. It seems to us imperative that direct and immediate action should be taken to complete these major loading and unloading port projects within the earliest practicable time.
The benefit from the use of the large tankers in the completed deepwater ports would be far reaching since their employment at full capacity would result in corresponding savings in transportation costs. There is no type of harbor improvement from which the benefits are more promptly realized and none in which the benefits are as great as those involving the movement of crude oil and crude oil products.
It is not enough that the authorized projects be carried to completion. Once the channel improvements are completed, they are committed to the use of deeper draft vessels and to the loading of the ships to the extent of their capabilities. If channels are allowed to deteriorate and navigable depths are decreased by silting, great inconvenience and loss will be experienced. It is for this reason that we ask that sufficient maintenance funds for channels and harbors be appropriated to insure the efficient and economic use of the deep-water channel on the east and gulf coast.
Mr. Ray. We thank you very much.
MONDAY, MAY 11, 1953.
UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEES
HON. C. W. BISHOP, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF ILLINOIS ROBERT B. BROOKS, CONSULTING ENGINEER, 1310 AMBASSADOR
BUILDING, ST. LOUIS, MO. JOSEPH B. BROOKS, CONSULTING ENGINEER, 1310 AMBASSADOR
BUILDING, ST. LOUIS, MO.
Mr. Davis. We are pleased to have Mr. Bishop, of Illinois, with us this morning.
I understand that you are interested in the upper Mississippi River levees and that there are some other matters that you wanted to call to our attention.
Mr. Bishop. That is right. I represent the 25th Congressional District of Illinois, which includes 15 of the lower counties known as Egypt, and in that district we have 180 miles on the Mississippi River, and on the other side, which will be called to your attention later, is the Ohio, 85 miles, where the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers meet at Cairo, Ill. It is'these levees along the Mississippi River from East St. Louis to Thebes, Ill., which this money particularly is asked for. The bank protection program of our Federal Government for the last several years has included a levee system from East St. Louis to Thebes, Ill., in the interests of national defense and the public welfare. Large sums have been spent on bank protection and levee construction. These Federal funds have been supplemented by contributions from the landowners and railroads in this area. There is still some completion work to be done on these levees, and the appropriations which you gentlemen of the Civil Functions Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives will authorize in the 1954 budget, will go far to complete this levee system. In the budget submitted to the Congress of the United States on January 9, 1953, there were certain recommendations for appropriations, to which I call your attention, together with the amounts recommended at that time by the Director of the Budget through the President, as follows: Grand Tower drainage and levee district--
$575, 000 Dagognia and Fountain Bluff drainage and levee district-
775, 000 North Alexander drainage and levee district----
490, 000 Wilson and Wenkel and Prairie du Pont drainage and levee district--- 775, 000
The amounts are as set up by the Corps of Engineers as those needed for the orderly progress of the work schedule.
On Monday morning, April 20, the present Director of the Budget, sent to the Congress, flood control and navigation budget proposals which slashed the amounts previously recommended for the above drainage and levee districts. The budget recommends as follows: Grand Tower Drainage and Levee District---
$475, 000 Degognia and Fountain Bluff Drainage and Levee District.
600,000 North Alexander Drainage and Levee District--
340, 000 Wilson and Wenkel and Prairie du Pont Drainage and Levee District-- 325, 000
The Grand Tower Drainage and Levee District and the Degognia and Fountain Bluff Drainage and Levee District of Illinois are located principally in Jackson County, on the left bank of the Mississippi River. They are bounded by the Degognia Creek on the north, the Mississippi River on the west, and the Big Muddy River on the south and southeast. The projects include the construction and improvement of riverfront and tie-back levees, as well as the pertinent closure structures, drainage structures, and underseepage remedial measures. The two projects together will provide protection to about 51,000 acres of land. Of this amount, 14,800 acres are in the Grand Tower District and the remainder is in the Degognia District. Included are the towns of Grand Tower, Howardton, Cora, Raddle, Jacob, Grimsby, Sand Ridge, and Gorham. The Missouri Pacific Railroad is within the protected area in these districts, also. The floods of 1943, 1944, 1947, and 1951 all caused damage within these districts. Large damage in 1952 was averted only after a lengthy and expensive flood fight. The districts will also be endangered by flash floods from the Big Muddy River until the back levee is completed.
North Alexander Drainage and Levee District, Illinois. This district is located in the north end of Alexander County, on the left bank of the Mississippi River. The flood protection provided this area also provides protection to a larger project which embraces the East Cape Girardeau and Clear Creek and Miller Pond Drainage Districts and Clear Creek and Preston Drainage and Levee Districts. In these combined districts is included an agricultural area of 51,000 acres. This project also provides protection to these lands and to the Missouri Pacific Railroad Lines between East St. Louis and the Southwest. This railroad track is also used by the St. Louis-Southwestern Railway lines (Cotton Belt route) which carry a tremendous amount of national-defense tonnage. This project consists essentially of the raising and enlarging of an existing levee which will be, when completed, a portion of the back levee for the combined districts mentioned above.
Wilson and Wenkel and Prairie du Pont Drainage and Levee District, Illinois. This district is located principally in St. Clair County, Ill., but with the lower part in Monroe County, on the left bank of the Mississippi River. The levees in the vicinity of East St. Louis are a part of the
overall protection plan of our Department of National Defense. The flood-control project consists of raising and enlarging an existing levee system with upper flank riverfront and lower flank levees and the provision of drains through the levees to take care of storm runoff. Included, also, are highway closure structures and the construction of underseepage remedial measures. When completed, this project will provide protection for an area of approximately 9,600 acres of highly productive agricultural lands. Located within the area to be protected are the city of Prairie du Pont and the city of Dupo, Ill., as well as the main freight and rail yards of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The main line of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railway is also within this district. Portions of this area have been inundated by floods in 1943, 1944, and 1947. The lower flank of this levee system has not, as yet, been constructed, and protection is provided only by an existing highway embankment, which is not designed to act as a levee. South of the Prairie du Pont District is an area known as the Fish Lake District in Monroe County. It has been proposed that the riverfront levee for the Prairie du Pont project be extended southward to provide protection for the Fish Lake area before it is turned to tie back to high ground. If this latter plan is pursued, an additional 2,440 acres of highly productive agricultural land will be enclosed and this acreage now has no protection whatever. The extension of the Prairie du Pont project to include the Fish Lake area has been estimated to cost about $855,000. The Fish Lake area, with no protection whatever, has been inundated almost annually for the last 10 years. The plan now proposed by the Corps of Engineers for this flank levee meets the approval of all local interests affected.
In addition to the protection to rich agricultural lands, there is a matter of protection of transportation which is necessary to the economy of these lands as well as to the transportation of wartime tonnage, as well as civilian tonnage and passengers.
The main freight line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad for the 120 miles from East St. Louis to Thebes, Ill., is located in the alluvial valley of the Mississippi River and is within the area to be protected by levees for a distance of 96 miles. It is located outside the levee areas
for about 24 miles, in which area the Missouri Pacific is raising its tracks to an elevation above the project levee grades. About 9 miles of track has been raised and work is far advanced on an additional 12 miles. The railroad expects to complete its program of track raising in 1954. This work by the railroad is by written agreement with the United States Government and conforms to the program of the Department of National Defense in protecting this area. I am authoritatively advised that the Missouri Pacific stands ready to carry to completion its part of the program.
Work accomplished on the levee units since World War II has been providing additional protection to about 66 miles of main line track in the various reaches. For continuous through operation of the railroad, however, the degree of protection has not changed materially since World War II, because effective closure of levees and the raising of the railroad tracks in unprotected areas has not been completed by construction work to date. Through traffic of the railroad would now be interrupted by floods of 4-year frequencies.
The Office of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, fully recognizes the desirability of providing additional protection for the farm lands and the transportation systems in this alluvial valley and are prepared to proceed with that work as expeditiously as practicable consistent with the availability of funds for that purpose. With close to $25 million previously spent on the levee system, between East St. Louis and Thebes, Ill., at the direct instigation of the Federal Government for national defense as well as flood protection, it is definitely in the interests of national defense and the public welfare to complete this work as soon as practicable.
The Missouri Pacific lines carried more national defense tonnage in the last war on the single track section of this line than any other similar single track in the United States. You can readily realize that it means when trains could not operate on this track for a number of days because of water. I would also like to call your attention to the fact that interruptions in previous floods prevented the transportation of national defense tonnage. The reason for this was that while steam locomotives might have operated with difficulty and under uncertain conditions as long as the water did not reach the firebox of the locomotive, some 2 feet over the rails, nevertheless conditions have now changed. Now, with diesel engines, these diesel locomotives cannot operate over track where the water is 3 inches above the rail.
As you know, President Eisenhower's budget for 1954 contemplates the reduction in the civil functions construction program of the Corps of Engineers. Due to the fact that some $25 million have been spent on this levee system from East St. Louis, Ill., to Thebes, Ill, and that the appropriation asked for back in January is required to make the system substantially effective for this 120 miles, it is urgently requested that the Civil Functions Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives recommend that the original amounts asked for by the Director of the Budget in January, be recommended for appropriation by the Congress.
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Chairman, if I may file this statement with you, I would like you to listen to Mr. Brooks for about 2 minutes. He can give you the technical details of what this is all about.
Mr. Davis. We would be glad to hear from Mr. Brooks.
Mr. BROOKS. You have spent $25 million between East St. Louis and Thebes, Ill., which is a distance of 120 miles. The reason you have done that is not alone to take care of some 150,000 acres of land which, as Mr. Bishop says, is the breadbasket of the United States.
In fact, if I am not mistaken, Mr. Bishop, the reason they call that the Egyptian country is because of the tremendous amount of corn you raise down there and you know about Joseph and so forth in Egypt; is that right? Mr. Bishop. That is right. Mr. BROOKS. It is a tremendously productive corn area.
Now, the reason that this is not only necessary in the interest of public welfare but also for the national defense is this: There is a railroad line from St. Louis and East St. Louis which runs down there to Thebes, and that single-track railroad carried more tonnage of military supplies than any other similar track in the United States during World Wars I and II; and that includes any single-line track in the United States even between Washington and New York. Very few people know the amount of tonnage which was carried through that 120-mile stretch.
Now, the United States Government made a contract with certain railroads that if they, the railroads, would raise their track, then the Government would add to the levee protection so that it would take care of those 150,000 acres or thereabouts. That is the approximate amount. So you have spent $25 million so far.
There are two of those districts. Incidentally, the people, of course, pay a certain amount in the rights-of-way and this, that, and the other. There are two districts which may be finished this year if you do not cut them.
First there is the Grand Tower Drainage and Levee District. The Truman budget called for $575,000 for this. You cut that $100,000. I do not think that makes a great deal of difference, because they are getting a little bit lower prices.
On the Degognia and Fountain Bluff Drainage and Levee District, the old budget was $775,000 and the new budget is $600,000. That simply means that so far as completion of that job is concerned you will not finish it in this next fiscal year, but it will still be unprotected for 1 more year. That is the difference the $150,00 cut will make in that.
On your North Alexander Drainage and Levee District the old budget called for $490,000, and our present budget is $340,000. That, again, means that that particular levee district will not be completed during the next fiscal year, but will lay over.
The most important one. I would say, of the four districts down there, is the Wilson and Wenkel and Prairie du Pont Drainage and Levee District. That is cut from $775,000 down to $325,000. That means that 2,440 acres of land which have been inundated every year for the last 10 years will be in trouble.
In other words, the farmer plants his corn crop, and he does not know whether he is going to catch it or not. Let me say that it works this way: He has to wait until the water goes down, and then he plants the corn. Then if he can get it through in 90 days before the frost comes, all right, he has a crop. If the frost comes, he has to