Email from Mike Ferris

Wednesday 4 June 2003:


I've been trying to do some research into just what the expense are for operating locks 5-9 on the Allegheny. This morning I had a conversation with Jim Edinger, chief operation division of the Corps in Pgh. who explained some of the costs to me. I now have a much better understanding what it is that we are looking for in additional monies for operation of the locks.

According to Mr. Edinger, a lock attendant costs the Corps $77,114.00 per year. This amount includes all the pension, payroll, and overhead costs. The attendant's salary is actually $36,000.00, the balance is the other costs. With that in mind, the dollar figure we are looking at to operate locks 5-9 one 8 hour shift per day 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year is $385,570.00. If in fact, we were to open the same locks 2 shifts 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year the cost would be double that at $771,140.00. This amount would place one lock attendant at 5 locks on the Allegheny for 2 shifts 5 days a week for a full year. We are asking for much less that this especially since commercial lockages can be make by appointment.

The recreational boating season is only about 22 weeks long, from May till October although, some like myself try to stretch it to 27 or more. Let's just say the norm is 25 weeks long. The actual costs to put one attendant at each of the 5 locks 2 shifts a day for a 25 week recreational boating season is $74,148.07. I know this is an over simplification of the costs because labor contracts are for a year, not 25 weeks. It does however, put into light what a small amount of recreational money we are looking for to subsidize operations for the recreational boating season. To get a schedule that would suit most recreational and commercial uses would cost even less than this.

Surely one of you guys, or your bosses, can figure out how to initiate an appropriations rider onto one of the existing federal packages marked for recreation, that would get $100,000.00 to the corps of engineers earmarked supplement operations of locks 5-9 on the Allegheny for the recreational boating season. This yearly injection of funds would go a long way to solving the problem and at least give recreational boaters some present's in River issues. While you're appropriating, get a similar amount of money for the Mon. River and the all the boaters in the Pittsburgh district will be happy campers.

On a much lighter note, if any of you guys and you're significant others, would like to spend a most enjoyable afternoon on the Mighty Allegheny, I would consider it my pleasure to by your host aboard the motor vessel "Nickels and Dimes". If we work it right, I should be able to lock you thru as a commercial lockage! Lord knows, we need more of those.

Yours truly,
Capt. Mike