Army Corps gets emergency money to fix Allegheny River locks damaged by ice
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, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.