Army Corp of Engineers Improving Morgantown's Lock and Dam Facility

21 October 2014

By Jeff Schrock, Randolph, Tucker & Upshur County Reporter/Anchor

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MORGANTOWN - The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are working to improve Morgantown's Lock and Dam facility.

It has brought in its repair fleet from Neville Island, Pa. to the Morgantown Lock and Dam. It's making some maintenance repairs that the corp said are necessary.

"We were pretty much at the point where we couldn't maintain the level in the lock chamber, without leaving the filling values open while we we're trying to bring vessels down. That would have continued to get worse, it's been getting worse for the last 18-24 months, and eventually we would have not been able to operate the lock," said Richard Lockwood, chief, Army corp of engineers operations division.

The lock and dam is one of nine navigation structures that provide year-round navigation on the Monongahela River between Pittsburgh and Fairmont. Workers will also work to get two of the six dam gates functioning again. The corp said this infrastructure is critical to the inland marine transportation system and national supply chain.

"Each one of these facilities is critical in the capability for moving materials, people, and goods to the rest of the world from the rest of the world," Lockwood said.

Upper Mon River Association President Barry Palley said the Mon River is essential for commerce and recreation, and that can't be done unless locks like Morgantown are in working order.

"What we want to do is increase commerce on the river, we want to increase recreation, and we want to reopen the locks at Opekiska and Hildebrand. The focus here though is the maintenance of these locks and repair that we need to do," said Palley.

The corp said the original plan was to be out in early November. But due to the increase in the scope of work, the corp now looks to be finished before Thanksgiving.