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Port Of Pittsburgh Seeks More Federal Funding For Local Locks And Dams

Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
According to the Port of Pittsburgh, about 30 million tons of goods move along area rivers every year using the region's locks and dams.


On today's program: The Port of Pittsburgh needs more funding for repairs on all three city rivers; a cafe in Reading has become home to that community’s Latinx population; Allegheny County Council considers a police review board; and a touring collection of African American art lands at The Westmoreland. 

Funding future commerce on the Ohio, Mon & Allegheny
(00:00 — 11:19)

The Trump administration earmarked $111 million to finish repairs on locks and dams along the lower Monongahela River as part of the 2021 federal budget proposal, but Port of Pittsburgh Commission executive director Mary Ann Bucci says it’s bad news for other outstanding repair needs.

“The U.S. Army Corps (of Engineers) does a very good job of keeping these locks functioning with bandaids and repair work," says Bucci, who shared her concerns with Congress last week. "But I think (by) 2028, there’s a 50 percent chance that Montgomery [locks and dam] will have a critical failure.”

Aging infrastructure along the rivers is a constant worry for Bucci and the corps, but “Montgomery keeps a lot of people up at night,” she says.

Bucci says she's still trying to sway lawmakers in Washington D.C. for additional funds. Federal budgets begin each year Oct. 1.

Not your typical election-year diner story
(12:45 — 17:50) 

In an election year, a lot of reporters head out to Pennsylvania diners. At Mi Casa Su Casa cafe in Reading, you’ll find a mix of clientele including lots of recent Latino arrivals to the city.

As part of Keystone Crossroads’ Embedded 2020 series, reporter Miles Bryan profiles a space that’s become a landmark of a city in transition.

Could Allegheny County get a civilian police review board?
(17:53 — 24:46)

With three new members on Allegheny County Council, supporters of a police review board are hoping fresh perspectives could reverse a 9-6 vote last fall that let the measure fail.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he supports the creation of a body to investigate allegations of misconduct by county police, but notes the county has no authority over municipal bureaus.

“It would (have to) allow municipalities, if they wanted to, to voluntarily opt in,” Fitzgerald says.  

County Council is holding a community meeting Wednesday at Duquesne City Hall to gather public comment.

Council's government reform committee will consider legislation proposals for two separate ballot questions: one would establish term limits for elected members; the other would remove the requirement that members resign their seats if they seek another office.

Fitzgerald, who had to resign his council seat to run for county executive, says he supports the second proposal, but doesn’t think term limits are necessary because council is part-time.

Traveling exhibit begins its stay in Westmoreland County
(24:49 — 38:54) 

A new collection celebrating the rich legacy of black artists opened Sunday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg. The traveling show, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, features works by 34 artists, including Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and the acclaimed artist and Pittsburgh native Renee Stout.

Museum director and CEO Anne Kraybill joins chief curator Barbara Jones to talk about acquiring “African American Art in the 20th Century” and how they hope it helps temporarily fill in the gaps of the museum's permanent collection, which Jones says is sorely lacking in its representation of people of color—an omission she says they're working to address.

Kraybill says the show itself, on display now through May 10, is just one small part of the museum's public programming. Find more information about guided tours, a film series, an in-exhibit party, an evening with a chef and more here. Admission to the museum is free. 

90.5 WESA’s Caroline Bourque and Caldwell Holden contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Kiley covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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