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Politics & Government

Locks and Dam Projects Set to Continue Thanks to Bump in Federal Funding

Doug Kerr

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to continue with several projects in the Pittsburgh region, thanks to the inclusion of $225.5 million dollars in President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

“It’s about a 30-35 percent increase over 2015,” said Lenna Hawkins, deputy district engineer for the Corps’ Pittsburgh district. “It’ll do quite a bit for us as far as getting some major construction projects moving along.” 

If approved, it will go to two such projects.

“One of them is the lower Monongahela River project,” said Hawkins, “we have been working at Charleroi locks and dams and we are trying to complete the river chamber to improve navigation.”

That will be helped along with a $52 million chunk of the budget; an additional $70 million is allotted for navigation improvements on the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers as well. Funds will also go toward safety improvements – specifically at the East Branch Clarion River Lake Dam.

Maintaining and improving the infrastructure along the inland waterways is key, said Hawkins, because they are used to transport commodities such as coal.

“Not only is it good for the economy, it’s very competitive with rail – actually it’s much cheaper than rail and it helps keep prices in the region at a very reasonable level,” she said.

The FY 2016 budget also includes $18 million for the Shallow Land Disposal Area in Armstrong County. Those funds will go toward continued cleanup of radiological waste at the site.  Pennsylvania’s budget portion comes from an overall $4.7 billion allotment for the Army Corps civil works program worldwide. A full list of projects and proposed funds can be found at the Army Corps website.