Durbin, Kirk, Costello, Shimkus Urge President to Include Levees in Efforts to Improve National Infrastructure

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Congressmen Jerry Costello (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to include levees and water infrastructure improvements in efforts to improve the nation’s infrastructure. Noting the President’s recent emphasis on infrastructure development as a key component in economic growth, they reinforced the need to include repairing and improving America’s levees as a part of this process. The four legislators held a Southern Illinois levee summit in December, and are continuing to work with the Delta Regional Authority, local levee districts and state officials to address these issues in a comprehensive way.

“The Illinois delegation has a long history of working across the aisle to make sure the backbone of our infrastructure is upgraded and protected,” said Durbin. “Improving the levees in Illinois and across the country will help save lives and keep property safe from floods. This should remain a national priority.”

“Levees are no less vital to our national infrastructure than roads and rails,” said Kirk. “I particularly worry about our ability to protect from floods and maintaining the jobs that depend on riverways. In Illinois, Granite City’s Lock 27 alone sees more than 70 million tons of traffic annually through its gates. If we are serious about a national dialogue on infrastructure, we must include our waterways in the discussion.”

“We have been working for years on improving our nation’s levees – this is a $100 billion national problem, and it needs to be addressed in a bipartisan way,” said Costello. “In our area and across the nation, we are dealing with communities that need assistance with levee maintenance and flood protection. For that reason, we are continuing to urge President Obama to include a strong federal commitment to our levees as we move forward with efforts to invest in our nation’s infrastructure.”

“Levee repairs are vital to our nation’s river infrastructure,” said Shimkus. “For the protection of our communities, levee repair should be a national priority of the President.”