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THIS WEEK: 'Historic' $1.2 billion plan headquartered in Quad Cities

The Army Corps of Engineers will spend more than a billion dollars on regional projects

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — It's being called a "historic" infusion of cash.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District said it will get $1.2 billion dollars in federal infrastructure and jobs funding which will be used on projects in Iowa, Illinois, southeast Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northeast Missouri.

The Rock Island District usually gets between $200 million and $400 million on an annual basis.

"So when you talk $1.2 billion that is a huge investment, and really an historical investment for us," said District Commander Col. Jesse Curry on "News 8 This Week with Jim Mertens".

High on the agenda of projects is improvements at Lock and Dam 25 in the St. Louis area.

It has become a bottleneck of barges trying to navigate from the Upper Mississippi River to the ports in Louisiana.

"That effort and those programs that got that recent funding to get started on is really, really historic game changing."

At that location and throughout the Rock island District, Curry said engineers are not only monitoring and improving infrastructure that dates back almost a Century, but the ecosystem that was changed by construction projects in the region.

"Previously, we always focused on the benefits of the navigation industry, but being able to bring along side that the benefits to the ecosystem really is a game changer that will enable us to really make new progress in this effort," Curry said.

You can listen to our entire interview with Col. Jesse Curry, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District on THE CITIES PODCAST.

Another major project getting the green light is the Corps' project to stop the expansion of invasive species like the Asian carp.

"We are certainly holding them back as of right now."

But the biggest effort is called the Brandon Road Interbasin project near Joliet.

This latest round of funding will help with planning and design, and the initial stages of construction, of an $858 million project designed to keep Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

"The risk of that happening into the Great Lakes is so great that we need to take every precaution that we have available to us."

Curry said the Asian carp have the capability to take over 90% of the biodiversity of any pool they get into.

You can watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.