« PreviousContinue »
the appropriations of the act of July 5, 1884, together with such bal. ances as were on band from previous appropriations. The report of the Chief of Engineers sets forth the condition of each improvement, the extent of the work performed during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1885, the amount of money expended, and, in compliance with the provisions of the river and barbor act of March 2, 1867, presents estimates of the probable cost of completion, together with an estimate, from the officer in charge of each particular work, of the amount "that can be profitably expended” during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1887. The Chief of Engineers remarks that these amual estimates are made in compliance with the above quoted requirements of law, and are not to be considered as carrying with them a recommendation of himself or of the officer in charge of the district, either in respect to the commercial value of the improvement or to the amount to be appropriated, other than for the most economical administration of works, the prosecution of which had already been approved by Congress.
The examinations and surveys required and provided for in the river and barbor act of July 5, 1884, have been completed, and reports of their results were transmitted to Congress from time to time during its session. The act provides that no survey shall be made until the local engineer has reported, after a preliminary examination, that the locality is worthy of improvement; and, further, that the Chief of Engineers shall direct such surrey only in the case where, in his opinion, the river or harbor proposed to be surveyed is worthy of improvement by the General Government. Of the one hundred and thirty-nine localities enumerated for examination in the above act, fifty-three were reported as not worthy of improvement.
Action was taken during the year, upon plans and locations submitted by parties interested, of bridges proposed to be built under au. thority of Congress, subject to the approval of the Secretary of War, particulars of which will be found in the report.
A report of the progress made between December 21, 1883, and December 19, 1881, by the Mississippi River Commission, in carrying out the work intrusted to it, was transmitted to Congress January 5, 1835. A subsequent report of the progress of that important work to June 30, 1885, has been received and will be transmitted to Congress with the report of the Chief of Engineers. The provisions of the river and harbor act of July 5, 1884, creating the Missouri River Commission, re. quire that the Commission shall submit for transmittal to Congress, at the beginning of each regular session in December, a full report of all their proceedings. The first report of the Commission was transmitted to Congress January 7, 1885; the subsequent report will also be transmitted to Congress with the report of the Chief of Engineers.
A statement is given in the report of the Chief of Engineers of the work accomplished during the year in the removal of wrecks endangering or obstructing navigation, general provision for which is made in the river and harbor act of June 14, 1880. Section 2 of the river and harbor act of July 5, 1884, requires the Secretary of War to report to Congress all instances in which piers, breakwaters, or other structures built by the United States in aid of commerce or navigation are used, occupied, or injured by a corporation or an individual, and the extent and mode of such use, occupation, or injury; and, further, to report whether any bridges, causeways, or structures now erected or in process of erection do or will interfere with free and safe navigation; or, if they do or will so interfere, to report the best mode of altering or constructing such bridges or causeways, so as to prevent any such obstructions. By sectiou 8 of the same act the Secretary of War is directed, whenerer there is reason to believe tbat any bridge over navigable waters of the United States, or of any State or Territory, is an obstruction to navigation, by reason of difficulty of passing its draw.openings or raftspans, to require the owners of or persons controlling or operating the same to cause such aids to the passage of the bridge as may be deemed necessary to be erected by them at their own expense. To comply with these requirements of law, instructions were given to the Chief of Engi. neers to prepare and submit for the information of the Secretary of War full reports covering all facts necessary to secure a compliance with the terms of the act. These reports and other information relating to the subject that have been received will be transmitted to Congress in a separate communication at an early period of the ensuing session.
The small appropriation asked for the next fiscal year for surveys required for military purposes and for the publication of maps for the use of the War Department is earnestly recommended.
IMPROVEMENT OF SOUTH PASS, MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
In the last annual report of the Department the record of this work was brought down to September 9, 1884. During the period from that date to September 10, 1885, inclusive, the channel of the pass was maintained as required by law. Four quarterly payments for maintenance, amounting to $100,000, and two semi-annual payments of interest on the $1,000,000 retained, amounting to $50,000, were made to Mr. Eads, making the total expenditures for the improvement to the last-named date $5,150,000. No appropriation has been made for the present fiscal year to provide for the annual expense of ascertaining the depth of water and width of channel secured and maintained. It will therefore be necessary to make immediate provision therefor, as the balance of the amount appropriated by the act of July 7, 1884, will be exhausted December 1, 1885.
WATER SUPPLY OF WASHINGTON. D. C.
Satisfactory progress has been made upon the work for increasing the water supply of Washington, D. C. The dam across the Potomac River at Great Falls is nearly completed, and the funds on hand are sufficient. The tunnel has been excavated for a distance of 13,500 feet, leaving unfinished 7,215 feet. The contract now calls for comple. tion of the tunnel by June 30, 1886; but this is not likely to be accomplished. The funds available for the work will be exhausted by February 1, 1886, and, unless further appropriation is made available by that date, operations must be suspended, thereby causing delay in bringing the increased supply of water to the city and at additional cost. It is estimated that $395,000 will be required to complete the tunnel, which it is recommended may be appropriated in the early days of the session. An additional appropriation is also necessary to complete the reservoir, upon which satisfactory progress bas been made. Estimates for the whole work have been submitted, amounting to $590,000.
RECLAMATION OF THE POTOMAC FLATS.
The river and harbor act of August 2, 1882, made provisions respecting the Potomac River in the vicinity of Washington, " with reference to the improvement of navigation, the establishment of harbor lines, and the raising of the flats,” under the direction of the Secretary of War, and in accordance with plans made in compliance with the river and harbor act of March 3, 1881, and the report of a board of engineers, and appropriated $ 100,000 for the commencement of the work. The board of engineers estimated that the adopted plan would cost $2,500,000.
The river and harbor act of July 5, 1884, made a further appropriation of $500,000, which will, in the opinion of the engineer in charge, be entirely expended at the end of the present fiscal year.
It is desirable that the next appropriation should be in a larger sum, as the improvement has now proceeded so far that certain portions must be finished as soon as possible to prevent possible damage by freshets. After that is expended the work could go on to the end with smaller appropriations.
The sum of $800,000 could be profitably expended during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1887. As the health of the city is thought to be in some degree dependent upon the completion of this improvement, the appropriation is commended to the favorable consideration of Congress.
BRIDGES OVER NAVIGABLE WATERS.
Under the act of Congress of July 5, 1884, the city of Saint Paul was authorized to construct bridges across the Mississippi River at that city, upon plans subject to the approval of the Secretary of War. The plans of a bridge designed to be erected by the city were submitted to me for approval in March last, according to the provisions of the act. After consultation with the Chief of Engineers I was unable to approve them, but at the request of the authorities of Saint Paul I submitted the question to the Attorney General, and in his opinion the plans were not in conformity to the provisions of the act. During this
investigation it appeared that directly below the main span of the pro. posed city bridge, which, in accordance with the act, was 300 feet in width, there had been erected in the middle of the navigable portion of the stream, by the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad Company, a large pier 40 feet in width, which was to form a part of a bridge across the river about to be built by that company. This fact was accordingly reported to the Attorney-General, who replied that "in the existing state of the law the facts of the present case afford no ground for a judicial proceeding on behalf of the United States against the railroad company, and that until Congress makes some adequate provision upon the subject the officers of the United States can in this case take no action to enforce the rights of the Government and give effect to the duty resting upon it to protect the navigation of the Mis. sissippi River.” This railroad bridge above referred to has not been officially reported upon by the Engineer Department, because, not having been authorized by act of Congress, it is not under the jurisdiction of this Department; but it is believed to be an obstruction to navigation. The railroad company claims authority to erect it under the act of the Territorial legislature of Minnesota of 1854, and asserts that the authority to build bridges across the Mississippi River and its tributaries within the State of Minnesota under the authority of the laws of that State bas been exercised in several cases.
The Attorney General, in the decision above referred to, remarks: “ As the Mississippi River above, at, and for some distance below the city of Saint Paul is wholly within the State of Minnesota, the principle enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States in Wilson v. The Blackbird Creek Marsh Company (2 Pet., 250); Gilman v. Philadel. phia (3 Wall., 713); Pound v. Turck (95 U. S., 459), and Escanaba Company v. Chicago (107 U. S., 678) applies to this case, namely, that until Congress acts, and by appropriate legislation assumes control of the subject, the power of a State over bridges across navigable streams within its limits is plenary."
The only general power which the Secretary of War has to act in the matter of bridges which obstruct pavigation is found in section 8 of the river and harbor act of July 5, 1884. This law does not prevent the erection of bridges which obstruct navigation, but prescribes that the Secretary of War shall require such aids to the passage of the draw. openings or raft-spans of such bridges as he may deen necessary.
This recital discloses the fact that a private corporation, acting under the authority of a Territorial act, is obstructing the main navigable channel of the Mississippi within a few hundred feet of the spot where Congress, in authorizing the city of Saint Paul to build a bridge, provided there should be a span over the channel leaving a clear water way of vot less than 300 feet in width. It has been thought proper to call the attention of Congress to this question.