The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District hosted a ceremony here today to rename the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam in honor of former U.S. Congressman Jerry F. Costello.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 re-designated the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam to the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam. Costello served in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District from 1988 to 2012, and has been a proponent of transportation infrastructure and Kaskaskia River interests for many years.
Costello has been an ardent supporter of Southern Illinois and the Kaskaskia River Watershed for years. During his 24 years in the House, Costello played an integral role in the success of the Kaskaskia River Project which has lead to development and economic growth.
Stakeholders praised the work Costello did during his tenure in Congress, helping keep the project funded and working with stakeholders.
"Mr. Costello knew we needed to maintain our infrastructure," said Ed Weilbacher, director of the Kaskaskia Regional Port District. "He represented this district well. He listened to and heard his constituents... Each year he would go to bat for this facility."
The Lock and Dam is located on the Kaskaskia River nearly a mile upstream of the confluence with the Mississippi River near Modoc, Ill. A part of the larger Kaskaskia River Project, the dam provides approximately 36 miles of navigable waterway for barge traffic from Fayetteville to the Mississippi River. St. Louis District began construction in 1967, and the project became operational on November 9, 1973.
“This is a great opportunity to recognize Congressman Costello and the many benefits that our region and nation have received from his years of hard work,” said Col. Anthony Mitchell, St. Louis District commander. “I am honored to celebrate this momentous occasion with all of the diverse interests the Congressman has brought together in the Kaskaskia River Watershed.”
In addition to navigation, the Kaskaskia River Project provides for water supply, habitat for fish and wildlife, and recreation on and off the river. Traffic on the river varies from barge traffic carrying grain, slag, coiled steel, and limestone, to small recreational pleasure craft. The Lock and Dam also provides an opportunity for safe harbor for those wishing to tie off away from the Mississippi River.
In his remarks, Costello stressed the importance of partnership among members of the Lower Kaskaskia Stakeholders Inc., who he credits with uniting the voices of diverse interests along the river.
"I could talk all day about this project and all the people in this room," he said. "I thank all of you. We wouldn't be here today without you.