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Sen. Paul Issues Letter to Lt. Gen. Bostick on Olmsted Locks and Dam Project

May 29, 2012

LTG Thomas Bostick
Commanding General and Chief of Engineers U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20314-1000

Dear Lt. Gen. Bostick, 

I write today in reference to the Olmsted Locks and Dam project on the Ohio River, which is currently under construction by the Army Corps of Engineers. As you are aware, the project was authorized for construction in 1988 for a cost of $775 million. Construction was initiated in 1992, and nearly $1.5 billion has been appropriated towards construction since that time. I was recently informed by Corps staff that the cost of this single project will increase to $2.9 billion - and that number is without an adjustment for inflation. According to the Corps, this cost increase is due to "unforeseen challenges" in the selected method of construction for the dam portion of the project.

You may recall that we met to discuss this issue, among others, in March.  In that meeting, I expressed my concern with the cost of this project, and the fact that the Corps continues to construct the dam "in the wet" when this construction method has clearly proven unsuccessful.  Persisting with this method has lengthened the term of the project by an embarrassingly long degree, and raised the cost of the project to a staggering and completely unsustainable level of nearly $3 billion.  As you are well aware, this era of debts and deficits simply does not allow for cost overruns of this magnitude.  However, it is not simply the fiscal situation that has focused my attention on the Olmsted project- the twenty-year delay reflects poor project oversight and management from the Corps, and these systemic issues must be remedied.

With this in mind, I want to echo the concern recently expressed by the House and Senate Appropriators in the report language issued by the respective Energy and Water Subcommittees.  As the House report noted, "the Committee expects better project oversight and management from the Corps of Engineers."  I urge you to abide by the House language, which directs the Corps to enter into an agreement with the Department of Defense, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office to review alternative methods for construction, and costs for completing the project.  I would also commend your close attention to the message that the Senate committee expressed in modifying the cost-sharing structure for the Olmsted project-as the committee noted, this is not a permanent solution, but a recognition that "something has got to change."  The Olmsted project can no longer sap resources from other badly needed repair projects up and down the river.  Better management, construction technology, and accountability are sorely needed.

I look forward to working closely with you to ensure that necessary management and construction technologies are implemented on the Olmsted project.  Please contact Rachel Bovard on my staff at R-----_B-----@paul.senate.gov with periodic updates.

Sincerely,

Rand Paul, M.D.

United States Senator

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