Tenn-Tom Waterway Project Nearing Early Completion

Mid-America's newest passageway to the Gulf of Mexico—the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway— is moving toward completion much faster than projections based on surveys and studies by the Army Corps of Engineers, say Tenn-Tom officials.

Dedication ceremonies for the 234-mile, $2-billion barge canal are scheduled in Mobile, Ala., and Columbus, Miss., on June 1, 1985.

However, administrator Don Waldon of the Waterway Authority says the route may actually be open to barge traffic as early as January next year. The waterway will provide primary corridor states like Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee with a new, direct water route to the Gulf.

Mr. Waldon says he cannot guarantee that the waterway will be carrying barges from end to end the first week in January, "but if everything keeps falling into place the way it has, it's entirely possible." Studies and surveys have resulted in a Corps of Engineers' estimate of 28 to 30 million tons of cargo moving on the Tenn-Tom in its first full year of operation. Traffic on completed portions support the projections, says the Corps' public affairs officer, Sam Green. Columbus Lock & Dam reports 541 lockages this year, and the Gainsville Lock & Dam at the south end of the project has moved 130,000 tons of cargo.

"These figures are impressive," Mr.

Green said, "but they're only a drop in the bucket compared with what we are going to see."

Other stories from September 1984 issue


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