After weeks of preparation, the Army Corps of Engineers has released its detailed plan of how it plans to spend the $4.6 billion the economic-stimulus measure provides for its civil-works program. The legislation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, split the money into six categories. The largest shares are $2.1 billion for the Corps operations-and-maintenance account and $2 billion for the construction program. The new Corps list, released on April 28, covers 1,191 projects, including 892 operation- and-maintenance items and 178 in the construction account.

“I’m very encouraged by what I see,” says John Doyle, Waterways Council Inc. vice president for government relations. Doyle counts $403 million for modernizing inland waterway locks and dams.

Some major locks and dams have multiple “projects,” which look more like individual contracts. Many of the projects on the stimulus list are ongoing Corps jobs, says Larry Bory, vice president for federal government relations with HDR. “These had to be things that were all ready to go, in terms of just adding task orders to existing contracts,” he says.

Doyle cites locks and dams 2, 3 and 4 on the lower Monongahela River in Pennsylvania, which receives $84 million. “The ‘Lower Mon’ project...could have used more than that, but $84 [million] is a healthy number for that project,” he says. Lockport Lock and Dam on the Illinois Waterway gets $88.9 million and Chickamauga Lock and Dam on the Tennessee River receives $57.5 million. “Those are very strong numbers for those projects,” Doyle says.

$ millions
California Napa River, Flood control 99.48
Florida Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan 91.76
Illinois Illinois Waterway, Lockport Lock and Dam, replacement 88.86
Texas Houston-Galveston Navigation Channels, dredging, restoration 87.23
Pennsylvania Monongahela River Locks and Dams 2, 3, 4, improvements 84.00
Minnesota Lock and Dam 3, Mississippi River, major rehabilitation 70.24
Tennessee Chickamauga Lock, Tennessee River, improvements 57.50
Kansas Tuttle Creek Lake, dam safety 45.63
Texas Texas City Channel 50-ft project 44.09
West Virginia Bluestone Lake, dam safety, capacity enhancements 36.00
Missouri Clearwater Lake, exploratory drilling 35.00

Melissa Samet, American Rivers’ senior director for water resources, says, “There are obviously things that make a lot of sense” in the Corps plan, such as true maintenance needs. But American Rivers has a major problem with the estimated $46.6 million for in-stream training structures, including dikes and bendway weirs. She says scientific research has shown such structures can greatly raise flood heights on the middle Mississippi and Missouri rivers. “They should not be on this list,” Samet says.

Bory says because of the limited number of Corps contracting officers, the wave of stimulus work will hold up other projects funded by the Corps’ regular 2009 appropriations. They include the first new starts in several years.