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The Loonies Behind UMRA

Demonstration Project Proposal - Contributed Funds Operation of IMTS Level 6 Locks on Upper Allegheny and Upper Monongahela Rivers

The Allegheny River Development Corporation and the Upper Monongahela River Association have jointly prepared a proposal for a demonstration project which would show that "Contributed Funds" could be used to operate the Locks on the upper Allegheny and upper Monongahela rivers which have effectively been closed to recreational vessel travel because they have been classified as IMTS Level 6. This proposal has been submitted to the US House-Senate Conference Committee appointed to reconcile differences between the House WRRDA and Senate WRDA bills passed in 2013 and covering Waterways Development.

The text of our release may be found here.



Contributed Funds Operation of Locks on Upper Monongahela River



PROPOSED UPPER MONONGAHELA RIVER SERVICE REDUCTION

By the Pittsburgh District, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

USACE Announcement

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) held a meeting on July 17, 2012 at the WVU National Research Center for Coal and Energy (NRCCE) in Morgantown WV to present the USACE Proposed Upper Monongahela River Service Reduction Plan, and to hear public comments. Link to Agenda

If enacted, the Plan will include severe restrictions/reductions to recreational boat lockages at the Hildebrand and Opekiska locks, and reductions in Morgantown lock operations. Impacts on commercial passages will also be affected.

The PowerPoint presentation by COL William Graham, District Engineer, and MAJ C.J. Scott, Project Manager may be viewed here.
(1.75 MB .PDF file)

The Monongahela is not being singled out for service reductions. Page 2 of this presentation indicates that 63 locks across the country will be likely to suffer service reductions. The Inland Marine Transportation System (IMTS) Board of Directors (an assembly of Corps officers) has decided that an IMTS wide approach will be developed for evaluating the Levels of Operating Service for inland navigation due to constrained funding in the face of an aging infrastructure and the increased cost of operations.

The projection is that we should expect the service to be reduced to commercial lockages only, and those only by appointment.


Additional background may be found in the Guideline for Range of Lock Operation Data presented to the Inland Waterways Users Board by Richard C. Lockwood, Chief, Operations & Regulatory Division HQUSACE on 6 June 2012.
See
http://www.waterwaysusers.us/Lockwood_2012%20IWUB%20LOS%20OVERVIEW%20-%206%20JUNE%202012%20-%20REV%201.pdf

Nationwide List of Locks Expected to be Affected


Could Upper Mon Locks be operated by A State or Local Group?

On September 26, 2012, UMRA Technical Coordinator Wally Venable gave a presentation to the Ohio River Basin Alliance outlining ideas for a federal-state (or federal-local) partnership to operate locks on the Upper Mon. A .PDF file of his "powerpoint" can be found here.

Community Responses

On 1 August 2012 the Marion County Commission signed a resolution Wednesday to show their support to keep the Hildebrand and Opekiska locks open.

On 7 August 2012 the Morgantown City Council passed a resolution encouraging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the federal government to keep the Monongahela River locks open to recreational boaters. Barry Pallay, vice president of the Upper Monongahela River Association, presented the resolution to council Tuesday, 31 August 2012 during its Committee of the Whole meeting.

On 9 August 2012 the Monongalia County Development Authority, West Virginia, passed a resolution urging the locks be kept open.

On 14 August 2012 the City of Fairmont, West Virginia, passed a resolution urging the locks be kept open.

On 14 August 2012 the Town of Granville, West Virginia, passed a resolution urging the locks be kept open.

On 15 August 2012 the City of Pleasant Valley, West Virginia, passed a resolution urging the locks be kept open.
On 5 September 2012 the Monongalia County Commission, West Virginia, passed a resolution urging the locks be kept open.
An earlier draft Resolution supporting efforts to keep the Upper Mon locks in operation was presented at the Corps meeting on 17 July. Click here to access it.

There is an online petition to keep the lock and dams open. The URL for the online petition is

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/465/902/530/keep-the-hildebrand-and-opoekiska-locks-and-dams-open/?cid=FB_Share

Congressional Responses

Senator Joe Manchin III wrote to Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary for Civil Works U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on 18 July 2012, requesting additional information about the proposal to reduce lock operations on the Upper Monongahela River in West Virginia.
Secretary Darcy replied to Senator Manchin on 6 September 2012.

Congressman David B. McKinley, PE wrote to Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary for Civil Works U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on 10 August 2012, requesting
additional information about the proposal to reduce lock operations on the Upper Monongahela River in West Virginia.

News Stories about the Proposed Upper Mon Lock Closures

Economic Issue - Fairmont Times West Virginian - 15 August 2012

[Granville, WV] Locks Resolution OKd - Morgantown Dominion Post - 15 August 2012
Boaters Take Advantage of Mon River Locks in U.S. Travel - WBOY - 13 August 2012
Group: Locks Vital to River - Morgantown Dominion Post - 11 August 2012
Resolution on Locks Approved - Morgantown Dominion Post - 8 August 2012
Keep Locks on River Open - Morgantown Dominion Post - 5 August 2012
Some 63 Locks Face Reductions in Service - Capitol Currents - 3 August 2012
Commissioners Sign Resolution for Upper Mon River Locks - Fairmont Times West Virginian - 1 August 2012
Marion County Commission Signs Resolution In Support Of Locks Remaining Open - WBOY TV - 1 August 2012
Help Keep Locks Open, City Urged - Morgantown Dominion Post - 1 August 2012
Fairmont Concerned About Opekiska, Hildebrand Lock Closures - The State Journal - 31 July 2012
UMRA Fighting To Keep Locks Open - WBOY TV - 31 July 2012
Local Groups Fighting to Protect Hildebrand and Opekiska Locks and Dam System - WBOY TV - 27 July 2012
Marion County Supports Efforts To Keep Locks Open - WBOY TV - 27 July 2012
Resident Fights to Keep Upper Mon River Locks Open - Fairmont Times West Virginian - 26 July 2012
Army Corps Seeks Solution to Lock Closure - Morgantown Dominion Post - 18 July 2012



You may find additional information on our UMRA In The News  page.

Some History


The basic issue, serious underfunding of the US Inland Navigation System, is not a new one. UMRA has been helping to promote a wider understanding of the issues for over a decade. Some our earlier efforts are described on

http://www.uppermon.org/current/cp.htm

http://www.uppermon.org/conjunction/toward.htm




Actions to Reduce Service in Other Corps Projects

Corps of Engineers Reverses Plan to Shut Recreational Boaters Out of Locks on Alabama and Chattahoochee Rivers

Corps of Engineers to host public meeting on proposal to reduce operating hours at Minneapolis locks in 2013
http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/pressroom/default.asp?pageid=2126

Ouachita/Black River System Level of Service Reduction Message
http://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/docs/2012/InfoPaperORLPublicMeetings.pdf

Ouachita River Association's Response
http://www.orva.org/orvaresponse.pdf

Corps to reduce services at Allegheny River locks
http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/pao/nr11/NR11-045State%20ofAllegheny.pdf