(CBS) — A boatload of business, farm and political leaders say Illinois locks and dams need boatloads of money for maintenance and upgrading, reports WBBM’s John Cody.

Illinois Soybean Association director Paul Rasmussen says current tug boats can push 15 to 18 grain barges at a time.

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“If they could put all of those into the locks at one time, it’s about an hour to get in and out,” Rasmussen said. “Since they are not large enough, they have to break up their load so it ends up taking about three hours to get through each one of the locks.”

He says more lock time means higher grain prices.

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Rasmussen joined the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in urging Congress to approve a $0.06 a gallon hike in barge fuel taxes as well as additional direct dollars to fund maintenance and upgrade of locks and dams on Illinois rivers.