Monday 28 February 2005
COL Stephen L. Hill
District Engineer, Pittsburgh District
US Army Corps of Engineers
2032 Wm. S. Moorhead Federal Building
1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15222-4186
Dear Colonel Hill:
I understand that Mea Scholl has talked to you, and that you and your Deputy District Engineer, Major Peter A. Steinig, will attend our joint UMRA-River Navigation Coalition board meeting in Washington PA on Saturday 5 March, starting 1PM, at the Ramada Inn, Room 251. We look forward to meeting you and Major Steinig. And, we are working on a meeting agenda which I will eventually get to you.
Basically, though, we want to discuss with you what might be done this coming boating season, to have our Upper Allegheny and Upper Mon locks available for recreational boating.
My primary purpose with this letter, however, is to broach to you a recent topic of local interest, which we would like to pursue with you.
At our 11 February meeting, the Mon River Recreation & Commerce Committee (a VISION 2020 initiative, Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce), resolved to request the Corps to address a problem resulting from the limited hours of lock operations on the Upper Mon. They asked that we present the issue to you.
In addition to commercial vessels and recreational power boats, the river is used by canoeists, kayakers, and other owners of portable boats. Such boats can relatively easily pass the dams by portaging.
There is no apparent legal barrier to portaging at the Opekiska, Hildebrand, and Morgantown dams. At Hildebrand and Morgantown the Monongahela River Rail Trail provides a potential "off-side" route. At Opekiska there may be usable roads on both sides. There is however a concern that there is no existing guidance as to where such portages should best be made.
The lack of guidance leads us to concern over security problems which might arise from off-hours presence of canoeists on lock walls, etc., or over-reaction by security personnel who have not been previously briefed on the issue.
In addition, there is a need to direct canoeists to the best and safest take-out and launch points.
We would like the assistance of the Corps on the following: (1) Identification of the best take-out and launch points at the Opekiska, Hildebrand, and Morgantown dams; (2) Where necessary, improvement of shore access points for portages; and, (3) Erection of prominent signage at portage access points for the guidance of small boat travelers.
To the extents that volunteers can be involved in this project, we in UMRA and the MRRCC are prepared to help.
Donald C. Strimbeck, Secretary
304-599-7585 (fax 4131)
cc via email: UMRA board, and, MRRCC members.