Published June 1968 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd 105 Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 Volume VIII - Number 26 June 28, 1968 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column By U.S. Senator Robert Co Byrd OF INFLATION AND THE RIVER The fact there is inflation and that costs are rising is so taken for granted these days that the actual extent of the price rise often goes unnoticed. A way to illustrate graphically the extent of this increase, however, is to compare the costs of essentially similar federal projects in the same area over a period of time. In West Virginia, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is constructing a series of high-lift locks and dams along the Ohio River. These structures, the locks of which measure 110 feet wide by 1,200 feet long, are designed to speed river traffic by replacing the more numerous and shorter low-lift: locks and dams. Construction of each of these locks and dams is a vast undertaking. The work usually extends over a five or six year period. And while the relocation costs, such as railroads and highways, vary with each structure; essentially the cost of each lock and dam is about the same. The first of these modern high lift structures, Gallipolis Locks and Dam, was built in 1937 at a cost of about $9.,7 million. (This structure, while considerably larger than the older locks and dams, is only about half as big as the ones now being built and it, too, may be replaced in time.) The Pike Island Locks and Dam, located near Wheeling, was completed in 1965. It cost $56.2 million. The Belleville Locks and Dam, located below Parkersburg, is presently 91 percent complete and should be finished early next year. Its cost will be about $62.5 million. Cost of the Racine Locks and Dam, located above Huntington is expected to run about $68.5 million. This structure is expected to be complete in late 1970. Work on the Hannibal Locks and Dam near New Martinsville began last summer and should be finished some time in 1972. The cost: about $71.4 million. Finally, construction of the Willow Island Locks and Dam, located near St. Mary's in Pleasants County has just begun. This project will not be complete until the mid-l970s at a cost of about $77 million. In chart form, the cost increase looks like this: Locks and Dam Year of Completion Est. Cost $ Millions Gallipolis 1937 $9.7 Pike Island 1965 56.2 Belleville 1969 (est.) 62.5 Racine 1970 (est.) 68.5 Hannibal 1972 (est.) 71.4 Willow Island mid-1970s 77.0 If we take the 1937 cost of the Gallipolis Locks and Dam as our base cost, then the price of these structures went up almost 58 percent between then and 1965 when the Pike Island project was complete. And the cost will have gone up almost 800 percent by the time the Willow Island is slated to be finished will be slightly more than 37 percent.