Federal spending bill includes $2.6 million for Cape floodwall

Friday, March 6, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Cape Girardeau public works director Tim Gramling showed a section of the Mississippi River floodwall that is displaced by about three inches in this 2007 photo. The section is situated at Independence Street.

The Cape Girardeau floodwall rehabilitation project is in line for almost $2.6 million from the $401 billion spending bill that should go before President Obama this week.

The appropriation, one of 43 earmarks in the legislation for which U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson takes complete or partial credit, will keep the floodwall project going for another year. The $10 million project, already underway, includes replacing a floodwall section at the foot of Independence Street, repairs at the pump station that keeps downtown dry during flooding and other improvements to the floodwall system.

While much of the debate about the measure has focused on the nearly 8,000 earmarks in the package, Emerson, R-Mo., said she is using her ability to request specific funding items for projects that protect lives or property or better the lives of her 8th Congressional District constituents.

"We are very careful on those projects we select for the purposes of member requests," Emerson said. "I get tons of requests, but there are a lot of things that aren't appropriate for taxpayer dollars."

The only potential problem for securing the money, Emerson said, is if the Senate makes major changes in the bill and it gets bogged down in a legislative fight.

If the appropriation remains part of the budget, Congress will have appropriated about $6 million of the estimated $10 million cost of the repairs, said George Stringham, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in St. Louis.

The new funding will allow the corps to finish a $3.5 million phase that involves the placing of a rock berm that will protect a concrete wall installed with the original floodwall from erosion. Other repairs include replacing the drainage system that helps keep the wall from sinking and work on the earthen levee north of downtown.

City officials are enthusiastic about the project, even if they are uncertain on where to find funding for a proposed third flood gate at Independence Street, interim city manager Ken Eftink said. "The beauty of this project is that there was no local match required. The corps will pay to replace the wall section, but if a gate is more expensive than the repair, the city must pay the difference."

The floodwall project is expected to be completed in three to four years.



Pertinent addresses:

Water Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

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