Army Corps studying alternatives for upper Allegheny, Monongahela navigation facilities
PITTSBURGH – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District has initiated a study to look at alternatives for the future of low commercial use navigation facilities on the upper Allegheny and Monongahela rivers near Pittsburgh, Pa. and Morgantown, W.Va., respectively.
The 23 lock and dam facilities on the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers within the Pittsburgh District are authorized and funded solely for the purpose of commercial navigation.
The upper Allegheny and Monongahela river locks receive little to no commercial traffic and have not competed successfully for operations and maintenance funds against higher use facilities within the national inland waterways system.
The Army Corps is conducting the study to determine if the facilities are still economically justified for the authorized purpose of commercial navigation. The goal is to evaluate alternatives for the long-term status of the facilities that best balances environmental, socioeconomic and budgetary considerations.
The Army Corps recognizes that other benefits and uses are derived from the navigation system such as hydropower, recreational boating, riverfront development and water supply; however, by law, these benefits cannot be considered for funding determinations.
“We’ve witnessed a steady decline in commercial traffic at these aging facilities over the years and we’ve come to a point where they don’t compete well for limited federal dollars,” said Col. John Lloyd, commander, Pittsburgh District. “At the same time, we’ve seen an increase in operations and maintenance needs and have to look at what the future holds for these facilities.”
In 2012, the Pittsburgh District incorporated the Army Corps national levels of service on its inland navigation system. The levels of service initiative is an effort to prioritize the funding of lock operations and maintenance across the Corps to ensure the appropriate expenditure of limited federal resources.
As a result, the district began operating locks 5 through 9 on the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania and the locks at Morgantown, Hildebrand and Opekiska on the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia at reduced operational hours or by appointment only for commercial vessels.
Pittsburgh District’s 26,000 square miles include portions of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western Maryland and southwestern New York. Our jurisdiction includes more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigation locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose reservoirs, 42 local flood protection projects and other projects to protect and enhance the nation’s water resources, infrastructure and environment.
The district’s additional missions include water supply, emergency response and regulation of the Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbor Act. The Corps often partners with local communities to improve water quality, aquatic ecosystems, sanitary sewer and storm water infrastructure and more. During disasters, the district manages the nation’s emergency power contract, which provides temporary power to downed critical infrastructure. District personnel deploy overseas to help build, manage and administer water-resource infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, Iraq and other contingency areas.
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