Casey asks Trump for Nearly $50M for Mon River Locks and Dams
14 March 2017
By Tom Fontaine
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is urging the Trump administration to provide
nearly $50 million this year for continuing work to improve
navigation on the lower Monongahela River.
President Obama didn't put money in this year's budget for the
project to repair two lock-and-dam facilities and remove a third
between Braddock and Charleroi. In a letter Tuesday to President
Trump, Casey, D-Scranton, said the project needs at least $47.6
million to remain on track.
The money would come from a trust fund used for infrastructure
improvements on the nation's inland waterways.
“If the Lower Mon project is not funded, a work stoppage would
cost the southwestern region of Pennsylvania millions of dollars
and harm the economy,” Casey wrote.
Casey estimated such a stoppage would add another four years to a
project that is more than a decade behind schedule.
When work began in 1994, the Army Corps of Engineers expected to
finish the project in a decade for $750 million. It now estimates
the project will cost $2.7 billion and continue until well into
the next decade.
The locks and dams on the Lower Mon are among the nation's oldest,
with the respective facilities having opened in 1906, 1907 and
Funding for the project has been declining since 2014, when the
Army Corps received $72.7 million for improvements. It received
$56 million in 2015 and $52 million last year.
“Failure to sufficiently invest in the project could seriously
impair the transportation of major commodities that are vital to
southwestern Pennsylvania and the United States,” Casey wrote.
Between 6.3 million and 8.4 million tons of coal moved through
Lower Mon locks and dams in 2016, along with 1.5 million to 2
million tons of crude materials, excluding fuels, according to
Army Corps data.
“Numerous industries rely on the Monongahela River to transport
their goods and materials and, if the locks and dams fail,
businesses will suffer and industry would see a significant
increase in the cost of moving goods,” Casey wrote.
Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at
412-320-7847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.