Asian Carp Agreement Focuses Strategies at Brandon Road Lock and Dam

2023 05 31 BR Interbasin Project Placemat_Page_2

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, and the states of Illinois and Michigan signed a project partnership agreement this week for the Brandon Road Interbasin Project, moving the project forward into construction phase.
This milestone agreement allows $274 million in federal funding, including $226 million provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and $114 million in state funding to be used for construction of the first of three construction increments of the $1.15 billion project designed to prevent the upstream movement of aquatic nuisance species into the Great Lakes.
“The USACE Rock Island District has been working diligently with our partners in the states of Illinois and Michigan to move this critical project forward,” said Rock Island District Commander, Col. Aaron Williams in a press release.
“We are excited to be entering this next phase of the project and are committed to preventing the upstream movement of invasive carp and other aquatic nuisance species into the Great Lakes.”
Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet has been identified as the critical pinch point where layered technologies could be used to stop invasive carp populations from moving into the Great Lakes.
If they become established in the Great Lakes, invasive carp could outcompete native species and greatly harm the ecosystems of the entire Great Lakes region and its over $20 billion fishing and boating industries.
The Brandon Road Interbasin Project will implement a complex series of innovative deterrents at the Brandon Rock Lock and Dam site to prevent upstream movement of invasive carp and other aquatic nuisance species on the Illinois Waterway.
Pre-construction engineering and design of the Brandon Road Interbasin Project was initiated Dec. 29, 2020, when the state of Illinois signed a design agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District.
This phase of the project, known as PED, is estimated to last three years, cost $28.9 million, and be cost shared 65 percent federal, 35 percent non-federal. The state of Michigan contributed $8 million to the state of Illinois to help with the $10.1 million non-federal portion.

The recommended plan involves a layered system of structural and non-structural control measures. Structural measures include technologies such as a flushing lock, an engineered channel with electric barrier, underwater acoustic deterrent, air bubble curtain and an automated barge clearing deterrent.
Non-structural measures, implemented in conjunction with other federal agencies, could include public education and outreach, monitoring, integrated pest management, pesticides, manual or mechanical removal, and research and development.
“Our multi-agency team of scientists and engineers has worked tirelessly over the last three years in combination with external stakeholders to design what we believe is an effective solution for protecting the Great Lakes watershed,” said Scott Whitney, BRIP Project Manager at the USACE Rock Island District.
“Protecting the Great Lakes has always been and will always be a priority for the State of Illinois and after many years of this project eluding multiple administrations, I am thrilled to see it move forward,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.
“I want to thank our partners at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Michigan, as well as our team in the governor’s office and at DNR for their years of work on this extraordinarily complex endeavor.
“Protecting the Great Lakes is not an undertaking that any one state or city can tackle alone, and I’m thrilled that we were able to forge a path that protects both the Great Lakes and ensures Illinois taxpayers do not shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden.”
“Today’s agreement will help us get shovels in the ground as soon as possible on the critical Brandon Road project,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “The Great Lakes are the beating heart of Michigan’s economy, and Brandon Road will help us protect local communities and key industries, including fishing and boating, that support tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.
“I am grateful to Governor Pritzker of Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — especially the Rock Island District –and our congressional partners for their long-term support and partnership on this monumental task. Together, we will get the job done so we can protect our lakes and power economic growth for generations to come.”
With the project partnership agreement signed, contracts for fabrication, continued design, leading edged deterrents and bedrock removal are now slated for solicitation in the coming weeks.

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