Repairs to Ohio River Lock Delayed Due to Damaged Road
17 May 2012
By Len Boselovic
May 17--Critical repairs to an unstable Ohio River lock have been
postponed indefinitely because Crescent Township and the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers cannot agree on a plan to fix a damaged road
that is preventing construction trucks from reaching the lock.
Corps spokesman Jeff Hawk said township officials rejected the
agency's offer to pay for repairing McCutcheon Way, a
township-owned road that leads to the Corps' Dashields Lock and
the township's Shouse Park.
The sticking point was the Corps' request to be able to close the
park for a bigger, long-term construction project Mr. Hawk said
may not begin for years.
Township officials "had a bird in their hand and they suffocated
it," Mr. Hawk said. "We're beyond frustrated to stunned. We're
done unless they make some extraordinary gesture."
Crescent's board of supervisors unanimously voted down the offer
Tuesday night because they did not want to give the Corps "free
rein to close our park anytime they wanted," said board president
"Are we ready to give away the farm to the Corps? No, we're not
willing to do that," Mr. Cook said.
The park has been closed since Crescent officials barricaded the
road last May after spring rains and shifting soil created 6- to
8-inch gaps large enough to stick an arm in up to the shoulder.
Mr. Cook said it would cost an estimated $250,000 to repair the
road, a project that would put a big hole in the township's $1.6
million annual budget.
The impasse means the Corps cannot go forward with a $3.1 million
contract it awarded last year to stabilize a lock wall so it will
not fall into the river. The debilitated condition of the
Dashields lock, completed in 1929, is typical of the problems the
Corps faces nationwide in maintaining an aging portfolio of about
200 locks and related dams.
Corps and industry officials warn that the collapse of a lock or
dam along the Ohio or other busy river would bring barge traffic
to a halt. Shifting coal and other commodities from barges to
highways or railroads would increase traffic congestion and boost
costs for shippers and consumers.
Mr. Hawk said work on the unstable wall "is not going to be done
Under the Corps' proposal, the federal government would have taken
over the road and most of the responsibility for maintaining it.
The township's only obligation would have been to clear it during
Mr. Hawk said the contractor who was to have done the lock repairs
estimated it would cost considerably more than $250,000 to fix the
road. Despite funding shortfalls, the Corps was willing to pay
because of the urgent need to repair the wall.
"We had to scrape and argue for this money. It was not easy
money," Mr. Hawk said.
The Corps is considering permanent improvements at Dashields and
two other Ohio River locks, but that work has not been authorized
by Congress. Democratic President Barack Obama's proposed budget
for the fiscal year that begins in October includes $1 million to
study what should be done at the three facilities. Mr. Hawk said
it may be 20 years before the Corps would need to use the park as
a staging area for construction.
Meanwhile, Crescent has ruled out increasing township taxes about
38 percent to repair the road. Mr. Cook said the township has
applied for a grant from a state fund supported by gambling
"We feel pretty confident about these grants coming," he said.
Len Boselovic: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1941.