Durbin visits Franklin County
April 12, 2010By Diana Winson
Rend Lake, Ill. — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) visited Franklin County late last week to check on the progress of improvements being made at Rend Lake.
The lake is currently undergoing a $26 million project funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"I know what Rend Lake has meant and what this project has meant to Southern Illinois," Durbin said.?Improved campsites, better roads, well-staffed recreation facilities with fully restored services and a new visitors center are among the project's goals.
Durbin said Rend Lake is valuable not only to the county for throughout the region for flood control, as a water source and as "an amazing tourism opportunity — 3 million people visited the lake last year."
Durbin was welcomed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff, construction crews and area legislators, as well as local officials and members of economic development groups.
"This is a good opportunity to be out here and see what's going on," said Tom O'Hara, commander of the St. Louis District of the Corps of Engineers.
O'Hara said the project has resulted in 200 jobs — the majority of work being done by contracted labor, "many of whom are represented here today," he noted.
Additionally, he called it an "infrastructure investment" that will result in less maintenance costs and less flood damage.