Closed Locks Planned
Proposal to end weekend hours
Morgantown Dominion Post
8 July 2012
By Cassie Shaner
A PUBLIC MEETING on the proposed service reduction will be at 6
p.m. July 17, at WVU’s National Research Center for Coal and
Energy, Assembly Room 101 A/B, Evansdale campus.
The Hildebrand and Opekiska locks may be closed to recreational
boaters by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), due to
national budget cuts.
Spokesman Dan Jones said a proposed service reduction plan for the
upper Monongahela River involves eliminating weekend and holiday
hours during the summer. Both locks would only be accessible to
commercial vessels by appointment, as they are in the winter.
Jones said operating hours at the Morgantown lock would also be
reduced, from eight hours daily to eight hours on weekends and
The changes would likely take effect in October 2013, at the
beginning of the USACE’s 2014 fiscal year. Jones said they were
prompted by new guidelines that designate service levels for locks
nationwide, based on usage.
“We want to get our money to the facilities that are used the
most,” he said. “We’re not doing this for the sake of doing it.
The funding is driving this.”
During the 2011 fiscal year, Jones said there were 169
recreational lockages at Hildebrand, 312 recreational lockages at
Opekiska and 322 recreational lockages at Morgantown.
In that same year, there were 132 commercial lockages at
Morgantown and two each at Hildebrand and Opekiska.
By comparison, Jones noted that Lock 3, in Elizabeth, Pa., and
Lock 4, in Charleroi, Pa., each had more than 5,000 commercial and
Lana Smith lives on the Tygart River. She and her family travel
through four locks to camp in Point Marion, Pa., at least once a
“I would hate it if the locks would close,” Smith said. “It’s a
lot of fun. We camp. We eat along the river. It’s a wonderful
Smith said her family used to make the trip more often, sometimes
traveling through an extra lock to visit friends in Palmer, Pa.,
but the current hours have limited their trips.
“If they shut the locks down, we’re done. No more camping,” she
John Burdette, president of the West Virginia Bass Federation,
said 60 teams competed in a June fishing competition in
Morgantown. Many fishermen stayed overnight, brought their
families and ate at area restaurants, but that could change if the
“Once they close the locks, there will be no access” to the
Hildebrand and Morgantown pools of water, Burdette said. Boats
typically go in at Pricketts Fort, where they would be restricted
to the Opekiska pool.
Jones said the locks may be open for special events, such as
fishing tournaments. Burdette said USACE officials told him they
might be willing to do two tournaments a year, but he noted that
other organizations have tournaments, too.
Smith is concerned about the economic impact on Fairmont’s
waterfront, which city officials have worked to revive. She said
it’s great for fishing or waterskiing, but noted that some people
can’t transport their boats by trailer to enjoy the area.
Jones said USACE officials are open to suggestions and
alternatives to keep the locks open. He urged area residents to
attend a July 17 public meeting to provide input.
COMMENTS ON THE proposal can be sent by email to
celrp-pa@usace. army.mil or mailed to U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, Upper Mon River Ser vice Reduction, 1000 Liber ty Ave.,
22nd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.