WASHINGTON – Twelfth District U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx last week, along with 25 members of the House of Representatives Port Caucus.
“Southern Illinois sees a high volume of river traffic due to its placement between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers,” said Enyart. “It is important that we discuss sound river infrastructure policy now, in order to maintain navigability in the future. Secretary Foxx was eager to discuss long term investment and upgrades to our area’s infrastructure which will have a positive impact on our entire transportation system in the country.”
Enyart stressed the importance of river maintenance and the necessity to keep inland waterways navigable and well maintained. Southern Illinois waterways are vital for agriculture, manufacturing, and labor for the shipment of raw materials, coal, crops, and manufactured goods along the Mississippi and other rivers. Working with the barge industry is key to having long-term investment in repair and upgrades on the lock and dam systems, which are aging and in need of higher capacity.
Foxx and Enyart also discussed the need for high-speed rail in the region. The 12th District of Illinois encompasses one of the few routes in the country where high-speed rail is moving forward. The addition of high-speed rail will reduce travel time between Chicago and the Metro East, ultimately bringing more economic activity to the area.
Foxx has visited the 12th District of Illinois twice in 2013 – in February for the opening of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, and to visit America’s Central Port in Granite City along with Vice President Joe Biden to mark the fifth anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.