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Valley News Dispatch

Army Corps gets emergency money to fix Allegheny River locks damaged by ice

Mary Ann Thomas
| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 3:21 p.m.
Army Corp of Engineer employee James Burford, clears a trench on Lock No. 7 in Kittanning.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Army Corp of Engineer employee James Burford, clears a trench on Lock No. 7 in Kittanning.
Donald Hawthorne, lead mechanic for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at lock and dam No. 8 Mosgrove in Armstrong County on Feb. 26, 2018.
Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Donald Hawthorne, lead mechanic for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at lock and dam No. 8 Mosgrove in Armstrong County on Feb. 26, 2018.
Remaing ice earlier in 2018 on lock and  dam No. 8 Mosgrove on the Allegheny River in Armstrong County.
Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Remaing ice earlier in 2018 on lock and dam No. 8 Mosgrove on the Allegheny River in Armstrong County.
Ice damage at lock and dam No. 8 Mosgrove on the Allegheny River earlier in 2018.
Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Ice damage at lock and dam No. 8 Mosgrove on the Allegheny River earlier in 2018.
A wall of ice on lock and dam No. 8 Mosgrove on the Allegheny River in Armstrong County in early 2018.
Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
A wall of ice on lock and dam No. 8 Mosgrove on the Allegheny River in Armstrong County in early 2018.
Exterior of Lock No.7 in Kittanning.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Exterior of Lock No.7 in Kittanning.

The headquarters of the Army Corps of Engineers is directing $300,000 in emergency funding to Armstrong County to help repair two Allegheny River lock facilities that were damaged this year by large ice jams.

The ice jams damaged locks No. 8 Mosgrove and No. 9 Rimer, mangling hand railings and destroying gratings on walkways used by lock workers and that protect equipment, said Dave Heidish, navigation facility project manager with the Corps' Pittsburgh District.

“There was talk (when the damage occurred that) we would not be able to open the locks for Memorial Day weekend,” Heidish said.

Workers recently completed temporary fixes that will enable the Army Corps to open the locks for Memorial Day weekend. The emergency funding will help the Corps make permanent repairs.

The Corps previously closed the Armstrong County locks to pleasure boats because there is little commercial traffic, which determines federal funding for lock operations.

The nonprofit Allegheny River Development Corp. pays the Corps to open Locks Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 to recreational boaters on weekends and various other days.

Linda Hemmes, the nonprofit's president, said she was worried about the locks being operational after seeing photos of the ice damage.

“That was frightening,” she said.

The Corps' Pittsburgh District learned this week that it was awarded the emergency funding after applying for it through a competitive grant program. District spokesman Jeff Hawk said a schedule for making the permanent repairs has not been set.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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