Congress Expected to Vote This Week On Bill That Could Fund Mon
19 May 2014
Bobby Kerlik 412-320-7886
Congress is expected to vote this week on a bill that could
provide more than $100 million annually to fund the
behind-schedule lower Monongahela River locks-and-dam project.
The project remains $1 billion short of the funding needed for
completion, despite an additional $74.7 million in funding for the
Army Corps of Engineers this year.
“It's a very good start,” said Peter Stephaich, chairman and CEO
of Campbell Transportation Co. in Houston in Washington County.
“The structural part of (the bill) is a long-term change. It will
change the way the money flows.”
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act changes how federal
money is doled out from a trust fund dedicated to waterway
projects — particularly a $3 billion project to build a dam and
locks along the Ohio River near Olmsted, Ill.
That project, which drained the trust fund before other projects
could get money, will be funded at a lower rate, freeing an
expected $124 million next year.
The lower Mon project is expected to get about $100 million of
that, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, said during a visit to
Pittsburgh on Monday.
Casey pushed for the bill and supports an increase in the fuel tax
used by riverboats, from 20 cents a gallon to 29 cents. That will
require a separate vote.
“Part of the way to get there is to have the fee (increase),”
Casey said. “This isn't a one-year, two-year race; this is more of
Stephaich said he and other river shippers support the fee
increase because the money would be dedicated to projects that
“There's 350 companies that are going to be paying this, and we're
all unified and have asked for this,” Stephaich said. “We pay
tremendous costs every year in lock delays. There's a big direct
cost to us for not having these locks correctly operational.”
The Corps expected to finish the lower Monongahela River project
within 10 years when work began in 1994 on what was then a $750
million project to remove the locks and dam in Elizabeth, replace
a dam in Braddock and build locks in Charleroi. Funding shortfalls
and delays postponed the projected completion date to at least
“But once we start getting funded efficiently, we're probably
cutting off eight, nine years of construction,” said Jeanine Hoey,
chief of programs and project management for the corps' Pittsburgh
The Braddock dam replacement is completed. Corps data show the
project received $108.5 million during the past five years.
Bobby Kerlik is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached
at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6139500-74/project-locks-dam#ixzz32EXhW5KW