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General HARDIN. There seems to be that tendency to get better prices than we have had.
Senator THYE. Therefore, you are not making any request for any additional increase here in order to correspond with what you may anticipate as an increase in the overall cost of what was contemplated in the act of 1950 ?
General HARDIN. There is the item which we have just been discussing, the control of Old River, where we have no features in the program, of the nature that will be required for that control. We will seek an increase in the authorization for that purpose.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEES
Senator ELLENDER. I desire to ask one more question in reference to the appropriation for the main stem, particularly with reference to levees. I notice last year we appropriated $3,622,350 and this year the recommendation is for only $853,000. Why such a drastic cut? What will be the results of such a drastic cut?
General HARDIN. We had to weigh the relative urgency of the different elements of this project in determining how we should apply the permitted funds under the 1955 budget.
Senator ELLENDER. Can you tell us how that permitted fund was reached? Who had to do with it?
General Hardin. The figure of $45,200,000 is the permitted budget figure.
Senator ELLENDER. That was a figure simply given to the Corps of Engineers and they said, “Here is what you can spend; spend it to the best advantage," and that is about what you did ?
General HARDIN. That is correct. After that figure was furnished, we reviewed what we had requested and what could be deleted from that request, and then reallocated those funds, which in our best judgment, would fit the varying needs of the comprehensive project.
Senator ELLENDER. This cut of almost $3 million as to levees will further delay the completion of the rest of the main stem levees?
General HARDIN. Yes, sir. The remaining work, as I pointed out, on these main stem levees is just raising and enlargement. It is not building new levees; but we can only bring up to grade and section about 12 miles of that approximate 300 remaining to be done with the funds that are in this budget.
Senator ELLENDER. And you had asked for funds to complete how many miles out of the 300 ?
General HARDIN. In the recommendations we submitted under our $70 million budget, we had $3,083,000 for main-stem levee work.
Senator ELLENDER. At that rate it will take you years before you can complete the raising of those levees to standard ?
General HARDIN. That is true.
ECONOMY IN REVETMENT OPERATIONS Senator THYE. General, what economy is brought about by the substitution of the fiberglas reinforcing in lieu of copper-weld fabrics?
General HARDIN. It is an experimental venture. The fiber glass as a substitute for reinforcing fabric has promise, but we have been
unable so far to get beyond the experimental stage because the manu-
Senator Tuye. You are still experimenting and researching?
Senator THYE. What have you developed in your study of a new concrete slabbing machine?
General Hardin. We actually have under construction the plant for the manufacture of the concrete slabs. We call them squares. They are an articulated group of little slabs about 4 feet wide and 18 inches long, joined together in lengths of about 25 feet. We have that plant under construction. We have had the pilot plant in operation. We are receiving now the power and the control equipment. We have the foundation completed. We are erecting the heat-treatment portion of the plant and expect to have it in operation this summer.
Senator THYE. What savings does it promise if everything goes well?
General HARDIN. It promises about $1 per hundred square feet; whereas, it is costing now in the neighborhood of $15 or $16 for casting these things by hand per hundred square feet. Very careful estimating convinces us there is a possibility of a dollar saving per square.
Senator THYE. One dollar saving per 100 square foot. So if the present cost is at about $16, you could reduce it to about $15 ?
General HARDIN. That is correct.
Senator THYE. This would involve a great number of square feet in the entire construction?
General HARDIN. Yes. Of course, this plant would not begin to accommodate the entire necessities of the valley's program. We have 6 or 7 casting fields to support the revetment program. They are contract-operated undertakings. This plant is primarily to demonstrate the possible savings and overall economies in the making of that by machine methods. We are hopeful as we demonstrate this, then, that the contracting industry upon whom we rely for this kind of work in large measure will pick up the development and give us in the final analysis, the benefits of cheaper prices.
It is a large program yet to accomplish and it would be a sizable overall saving if we can effect this dollar per square just on the casting. It is a very similar thing to the building industry's utilization of machine methods in making concrete building block. The same principles are involved. We propose to make them in little flat slabs rather than making them into hollow blocks and using pressure, vibration, and heat curing in the process like is done in modern building block technique.
LOWER WHITE RIVER PROJECT Senator MCCLELLAN. General, I notice in your budget here an item of $205,000 on the lower White River. What area or what project is that appropriation for? Is that a levee project!
General HARDIN. Yes, sir. That is a part of your White River backwater levee.
Senator MCCLELLAN. Indieate on the map about what area you have that in mind.
General HARDIN. That levee, totaling 41 miles, encircles an area of about 149,000 acres.
Senator McCLELLAN. It is down near the confluence of the White, the Mississippi, and the Arkansas, in that general area?
General HARDIN. It involves two drainage structures which are complete. About 26 miles of that 41 have been completed to an interim grade. There is a levee all the way around, but inadequate.
Senator THYE. I notice on page 10 of your planning report you indicate that the entire project is now about 63 percent complete. Is that percentage of completion physical or is it based on the funds available compared with the estimate?
General HARDIN. It is based on the funds available.
Senator THYE. What is the actual anticipated cost that will be involved in the completion? What additional funds are you going to need to complete that particular project?
General HARDIN. In a project which has as many variables in it and time considerations as this, I believe that it is wholly safe to say that since the project estimate has been brought up to date, the expenditure of funds against the authorization gives a reasonably accurate picture of both physical completion as well as the financial picture.
Senator THYE. It will also depend upon what the costs are. If there should be a further downward trend in costs, the total over all would be considerably less and you might come out with a savings?
General Hardin. It is a possible thing, of course, but looking ahead as many years as are involved in bringing this project to what might be termed completion, you can only assume that the present price level will be the criteria for carrying the project forward.
Senator THYE. Because if it is only 63 percent completed and if you add that deficit over the anticipated amounts because of the increased costs, if those increased costs were to continue as they have in the past 2 or 3 years, you would fall away short before you got the project completed. But you say the trend now is on a downward basis.
General HARDIN. It seems to be on the correcting side.
Senator THYE. So you may come out when you complete the entire project somewhere near the anticipated cost?
General HARDIN. That is true only for the items of work now included in the total estimate of $1,292,748,500.
LEVEE GRADE DEFICIENCIES
Senator THYE. I have another question that has occurred to us, and that is to be found on page 755 of the justification sheets. In discussing the item “The Mississippi River Levees” under the subparagraph justification, you say that the top of the deficient levees vary from a few tenths of a foot to as much as 6 feet below the project grade lines and that in other places, while some of the levee tops are in grade, the cross section is deficient and must be strengthened to prevent failure and to correct seepage conditions which may cause failure during flood stage conditions. Can you indicate to the committee the extent of the
levees that are most deficient in grade and in sections and your program for correcting these deficiencies?
General HARDIN. We have in our 1955 request for funds, funds which will partially bring up that severe deficiency of approximately 6 feet. Part of the worst deficiency will be overcome with these funds.
Senator THYE. You mean that the funds that are requested here now will take care of the most severe deficiency!
General HARDIN. Those will take care of some of that major deficiency. There may be some minor amount left. I will have to look at my detailed project schedule.
Senator ELLENDER (presiding). You mean the 6 feet deficiency?
Senator ELLENDER. You say you can complete it with $300,000 after 1955 ?
General HARDIN. Approximately $1,300,000 after fiscal year 1955.
Senator ELLENDER. Will the amount you spend this year take care of all this 6 feet deficiency you refer to? I would say that is a very severe deficiency.
General HARDIN. What we propose to do is to build a portion of the levee up to grade and section as indicated in that little red reach pointed to by Mr. Darling. Then there will remain a lesser raising but a longer length of levee on that same loop to be brought to grade and section in 1956 and subsequent years.
Senator ELLENDER. As to this remaining part, what is the greatest deficiency in height you will have?
General Hardin. That portion adjacent to the red will be about 6 feet. It tapers out to a minor amount as you progress upstream.
Senator ELLENDER. You will be able to complete all of the 6-foot deficiency you have just mentioned ?
General Hardin. In fiscal year 1955 we will complete that length in red which will overcome this 6-foot deficiency in that immediate vicinity. There will be an additional amount of 6-foot deficiency, or approximately so, adjacent to that programed for fiscal year 1955 and tapering out to a lesser amount as we go upstream.
Senator ELLENDER. To my way of thinking, it poses a very dangerous situation.
General Hardin. It is not particularly dangerous. We could erect a mud box on there, if a flood was apparent.
SEEPAGE ADJACENT TO LEVEES
Senator THYE. How serious is the seepage, because that is something that would be weakening that structure even if you are not at high water?
General Hardin. That particular structure is not very susceptible ) seepage. The other levee, as Mr. Darling is pointing out there, in
the vicinity of Greenville, is the location where we have to do some berm work and broadening of the base of the levee to restrain the tendency for boils to develop through a very weak foundation. I can assure you there are no places that are so sadly deficient on this particular mainline levee that would be difficult to take care of in time of a severe flood.
A severe flood would probably overextend us in our ability to put on an emergency-flood fight. That is the reason why we are so anxious to get this work completed on bringing these levees to a satisfactory grade and section. It is a matter of having equipment available in the valley and being able to mobilize it quickly under emergency conditions.
Of course, when we do not have a very large levee program going on, it makes it difficult to do that very thing, mobilizing equipment. You have to look to contractors not engaged on our work to furnish equipment under those conditions or circumstances.
In the past, under our floods as they have occurred, we have been fortunate in having a large earth-moving program currently under way on the river. Our contractors, as partners in this effort, turn out and make their equipment available to us to assist in the fight. It is of concern to me from that standpoint of not being able to carry on a levee program of rather reasonable proportions because it denies us the availability of construction equipment. We own no more of that equipment ourselves.
Senator ELLENDER. General, insofar as boils and seepage are concerned, I can well understand that during flood stage you might be able to take care of that; but where you have a deficiency of as many as 6 feet on a levee, to me that spells a very serious situation. How much more would it require to complete this bit of levee so as to assure this gap of at least 6 feet will be closed ?
General HARDIN. It will take approximately $1,300,000 to complete that section of Bayou Vidal-Elk Ridge levee all the way to its junction with the next levee which is complete.
Senator ELLENDER. Would you consider that very urgent and that it should be closed immediately?
General HARDIN. I feel it is of such urgency that we should not delay. I have to weigh it against the urgency of other things.
Senator ELLENDER. You mean that is within your $45 million? General HARDIN. Yes, sir.
Senator ELLENDER. But it is your considered judgment, though, that it is urgent and should be completed as early as possible?
General HARDIN. That is correct. Senator McCLELLAN. If we may revert to the Lower White River, I had asked you a question there of how much more it would take to complete that back-water levee. General HARDIN. After 1955 there will be required $2,982,600.
ST. FRANCIS BASIN
Senator McCLELLAN. In other words, we are making slow progress in that particular area. The appropriation this year is less than 10 percent of the total needed to finish that particular project. In the St. Francis Basin off the main stem, I note there is in this budget