|5:46 PM EDT||
Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding. I just wanted to make a couple of points very quickly, if I can.
The last comment: Whose district is the Tolchester Channel in? I do not think it really makes a difference whose district the Tolchester Channel is in. It happens to be in my district, though, and I will show my colleagues on the map. Not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. EHRLICH) and not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. HOYER).
If my colleagues will look at this map, it is a little busy, a little hard to see, but if we look at the map, the C&D Canal channel comes down the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay along the Eastern Shore, and the area we are talking about is Kent County on the Eastern Shore. Following this line coming down here, we can see the C&D Canal approach the channel. Down in this area, what do we have right here, less than a thousand feet off the shores of Kent County, in a pretty little place called
Tolchester? The Tolchester Channel.
Now, in the Tolchester Channel is the Tolchester S-turn, which we have already concluded is not classified as a hazard but a challenge. So just a quick clarification. The Tolchester Channel, the Tolchester S-turn is contained within the first congressional district.
Now, since we are reading letters, I want to read something from the report of the Corps of Engineers that was recently put out about the Tolchester S-turn. Here is what it says. ``The benefit for straightening the Tolchester S-turn is based solely on transit time savings.'' It might be a challenge to get through the Tolchester S-turn, but well over 6,000 ships have done it since 1994 without one incident in the Tolchester S-turn.
What are the hazards for straightening the Tolchester S-turn? As we can see right along here, the shores of Kent County in the first congressional district, the hazards apply to the people on the shore. The hazards apply to those watermen who want to catch the few remaining oysters in the Chesapeake Bay that will be silted over, which is about the largest oyster bar in the Chesapeake Bay, well over 300 acres.
One last comment. The only reason they would straighten the Tolchester Channel, the Corps of Engineers, is if it was a benefit to the taxpayers; and they have concluded that it is not a benefit to the taxpayers. There is no financial justification for it. And the other one, is it really a safety hazard? And we have concluded that it is a challenge. The safety hazard lies with those residents on the shoreline.