ShareThis Page

Casey asks Trump for nearly $50M for Mon River locks and dams project

| Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 5:48 p.m.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3 in Charleroi.

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 1932.

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 tfontaine@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.