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Mr. WEED. The larger ones can not come that far; no.
Mr. WEED. Right at that particular point it is 28 feet, but right at the point on the opposite side it is 36 feet. It runs from 26 to 35 feet.
Mr. LIEB. What depth does your project contemplate?
Mr. WEED. Twenty-five feet is the navigable depth, but we dredge 1 foot below that in order to be sure that they can go through.
Mr. EDWARDS. What about the probable cost of maintenance ?
Mr. WEED. That is a matter for the district of Beaumont to take care of. The original project provided that we should maintain the channel for a period of three years.
Mr. SMALL. You are still bound to maintain the two rivers, the Sabine and the Neches River, from Beaumont up to Orange, for three years?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir.
Mr. WEED. We have not had any experience yet. There has been a little shoaling at the upper end of our channel; there has been practically none on the Sabine River. Down there the shoaling is very light. In fact, it was very much lighter than I had anticipated, because we had the worst flood in August, 1915, that we have ever had in the history of that river.
Mr. EDWARDS. What is the character of the soil along there where those bends are?
Mr. WEED. It is generally soft mud and clay; not much sand.
Mr. WEED. It is 21 miles now. It will be 20 miles when that cutoff is made. That will shorten the distance 1 mile.
Mr. Frear. What contribution is made by local parties to that cut?
Mr. WEED. We originally paid one-half of the entire project, $428,000, on the waterway, and the Government paid $428,000. In addition to that we have spent another $100,000 on our terminal improvements. We bought the site
Mr. FREAR. Whom do you mean by “we”?
Mr. WEED. The Beaumont navigation district and the city of Beaumont together.
Mr. FrEAR. Are they public terminals?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir; it is publicly owned; and we are now building concrete wharves, two of them, at Beaumont, and they are of the latest modern type, electric cranes and other modern machinery for handling freight; and we expect to utilize this waterway just as quickly as we can get it drained out.
Mr. HULBERT. Do you take any boats in tow along that river?
Mr. WEED. Yes; there is a gulf line now that has four vessels plying between Tuxpam and Tampico, Mexico, and Beaumont. Those
are their chief ports down there. They have regular sailings—not exactly regular, but two, three, and sometimes four a month.
The Beaumont interests have spent a total of $825,000 on this waterway. I told you last year that we were going to issue another $100,000 worth of bonds to increase our terminal improvements, and we did it after I got back home. Orange has voted $150,000 of bonds for her municipal wharves, and one of the lumber companies, which is the largest importer of lumber in that country, is building wharves to cost $200,000.
Mr. SMALL. The waterway you refer to is the Sabine-Neches Canal ?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir.
Mr. COSTELLO. Are all these amounts you speak of as being paid out by local contributions at Beaumont and Orange, and so on, directly applicable to the work you have in hand here that you are asking us to appropriate for?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir; and it shows how much it costs us to operate this waterway.
Mr. FREAR. You spoke of a private company putting up $200,000 for terminals.
Mr. WEED. That is a sawmill company.
Mr. WEED. I include that in my total statement that Orange and
Mr. FREAR. What proportion of that has been put upon the waterway itself outside of terminals?
Mr. WEED. Half of it-$128,000. The other $100,000 is on terminals and other things there that are connected with it.
Mr. COSTELLO. In other words, the $128,000 was turned over to the Government, and it has spent all of that in this work?
Mr. Weed. Yes, sir; and the other money was spent by the wharf and dock commission of Beaumont.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the population of Beaumont?
The CHAIRMAN. You said a while ago that it was not a new project. I would like to hear you on that.
Mr. WEED. That it is not a new project? Well, Mr. Sparkman, it seems to me that a new project is one that has not been adopted, either conditionally or unconditionally. This has been adopted.
The CHAIRMAN. I would not think so myself, because we adopted it with the condition, which was part of the act, and the conditions could not be complied with and have not been complied with, according to your statement; so the whole act failed. It is not now in force.
Mr. WEED. Well, Mr. Sparkman, I think that is a rather technical view to take of it, to say the least.
The CHAIRMAN. We have to be technical, as far as that is concerned. The distinction we make between new and old projects is based on technical grounds.
Mr. WEED. I understand that; but I think the committee ought to take a broad view of the matter. The fact is that it was intended by Congress and thought by Congress that there was money enough; it was thought by the engineers that there was money enough, and the money has been appropriated; and that condition"attached to it was simply as a safeguard that they should not enter into a contract for an amount greater than that proposed.
The CHAIRMAN. It was represented to the committee that that could be done, and the engineers thought it could be done within the estimated cost of the work.
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. And as a part of the improvement the committee thought and the Congress thought that that should be done along with the improvement of the river.
Mr. WEED. Now, Mr. Sparkman, if it is a matter of great importance, and our waterway has already been built, and we have spent $825,000 on it—Orange and her people have spent probably $400,000, the Government has spent four hundred and odd thousand dollars, five hundred and odd thousand dollars, on this waterway, and this little bit of a thing stands in the way-that your engineers have always said ought to be done, and if you adopted this project in the original instance, then this act of July 25, 1912, is passed; and if you adopted this project at all, you must be warned now that you are now forced to face this expenditure for the cut-out of these sharp bends. I will read you the language of the engineer that wrote that report first. I quote from House Document 1290, Sixtyfirst Congress, third session, page 20, from Col. William T. Rossell, senior member of the Board of Engineers, as follows:
In its report published in House document just referred to (836), the board expressed its views at some length on the subject now under consideration, and attention is invited to that report. The board therein referred to the sharp bends in the Neches River and stated that it was too crooked for practical navigation for ocean vessels 300 to 400 feet in length and of 20 to 25 foot draft. The board questioned the commercial utility of the work proposed and stated that large additional expenditures in the future must be faced if the improvement were undertaken.
Stronger language than that could hardly be found to express the need of Smiths Bluff cut-off, which will eliminate the three sharpest bends in the river. That is the opinion that three of the engineers have passed upon it: and, further, Col. Taylor, said so last year, said so yesterday, and said he would be very glad to state that fact to the committee. It is a very desirable thing to do, and I do not believe, gentlemen, that you are going to cut out a very necessary and entirely nesessary thing to us on a great waterway like that, that we are using right now and have prepared to use and have expended a lot of money to use, not only public money but private money.
Mr. HUMPHREYS. Your thought is that if it was contemplated in the original project you want the appropriation for it, and if it is not you want it adopted ?
Mr. WEED. We want it officially adopted; yes, sir. That is the idea, or proposal, because this is such a necessary thing.
Nr. Frear. Mr. Weed, you said that the Government paid $400,000, and you at Beaumont have paid $100,000 more, and that Orange has paid $350,000, with full knowledge that these terms were here, with full knowledge that the contract had been completed, so far as the past contract with the Government is concerned, and still there is only $70,000 involved in this, and the Beaumont people lay the charge up against the Government that the Government ought to do this, instead of suggesting that it is their own obligation; is that right!
Mr. WEED. That is right. Now, let me correct your argument. You state the facts correctly; but don't you think that when a local community pays for half of a waterway, and then pays that much more and spends two dollars to the Government's one to utilize that waterway for a general commerce that there is more obligation resting upon the Government to do this alone than there is on the people down there?
Mr. FREAR. Are you asking that as a legal question?
Mr. FREAR. You have improved the property at Beaumont-assum-
are to blame for it." Mr. Frear. I was just wondering, because you quoted the colonel there.
Mr. WEED. I quoted that to show you exactly what the engineers thought at the time.
Mr. FREAR. They expected them to be cut out at that time?
Mr. WEED. Yes; we thought at the time we had enough money, and the only reason it cost more was because of the cost of this lock, which was a quarter of a million dollars, when we had estimated that it would only cost $100,000, and then it was increased to $170,000, and we still had money enough for this cut-off, and that was the estimate of the Government. We did not make that estimate.
Mr. COSTELLO. Your contention is that this comes under the 1912 survey?
Mr. WEED. Of the original survey; yes.
Mr. COSTELLO. But under the original survey you would still in equity be expected to pay half of this cut-off, would you not?
Mr. Werd. We might. If you bring it down to a legal question, that might be true; but, as a matter of fact, in equity I think we have done fully our share, and I think the chairman complimented me last year upon the fact that our people had done so much for the benefit of a commerce that is general, that is world-wide, and not only local. We have invested upward of $20,000,000 in Texas, including more than 1,000 miles of pipe line, bringing oil from Oklahoma and the far Panhandle of Texas, as well as from other Texas oil fields, to the Beaumont refinery.
Mr. Costello. Have you the statistics of the actual commerce of this river?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir; I have got them.
Mr. COSTELLO. How far will this exceed the estimated cost of the job?
Mr. W'EED. It is $130.000 over the original estimate.
Mr. WEET). Yes, sir; in the cost of the locks. I will say, for the engineers, that when the project was first mentioned it was assumed that a lock sufficiently wide could be built for $100,000. I do not think they ever made any detailed estimate of it, but they did make the detailed estimate later at $170,000, and thought they had enough money set aside, and after they made that estimate of $170,000 they still had more than enough money to complete Smiths Bluff Cut-off, and actually entered into a contract for the work.
Mr. TAYLOR. Did you not say that the cofferdams have been twice washed out?
Mr. WEED. They were not washed out; they just failed.
Mr. BURGESS. It was an out-and-out contract to do that cut-off work?
Mr. Weed. It was signed by the Secretary of the War and the Chief of Engineers, and approved by the Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers. It was not under a conditional contract; it was an unconditional contract.
The CHAIRMAN. It was conditional to the extent that there should be money enough to do it?
Mr. WEE). They thought they had mcney enough when they entered into the contract. but later they had to rescind that contract, which left us high and dry on that.
The CHAIRMAX. They rescinded it with no conditions?
Mr. Weed. They did that by agreement. It cost them $10,000 to do it.
The CHAIRMAX. Cost the Government that much?
Mr. WEED. Cost the engineers $10,000 to get out of that contract. There was an original and supplemental contract. I filed them here last year, but I thought that was geing into the matter a little deeper than you cared to, but those are the facts.
Mr. Frear. It cost the Government $10,000?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir. They increased the price of the extra work $10.000, because the Powers-Southern contractors considered that the Smiths Bluff work was a cheaper grade of work than the additional work which they actually did under this supplemental contract. They did some work under the supplemental contract, and when they found that they did not have money enough Maj. Jackson had to get out of it, and he was the district engineer; so in releasing the Powers-Southern, or rather, in releasing the Government from that cut-off work, the Powers-Southern increased the price on the lemainder of the work from 7.29 cents to 94 cents, on the average.
Mr. KENNEDY. You paid half of that additional expense?
Mr. WEED. Oh, yes. We had already put our money in the Gorernment Treasury.
Mr. KENNEDY. They paid five and you paid five?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir. I am talking about the contract generally. I am not complaining about the engineers. I do not want you to get that into your head at all. These things will occur. Aslide occurred in the Panama Canal which cost this Government $50,000,000, and they are going to occur again down there, although private engineers, as well as the Government engineers, have passed on the project.
Mr. SMALL. You have been discussing the project which is known generally as the Sabine-Neches Canal?
Mr. WEED. Yes, sir.
Mr. SMALL. That was adopted in the rivers and harbors act of 1911 ?