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Repairs to Lock 9 expected to be done for Memorial Day

| Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Armstrong County lock dating back to 1938 that was shut down for mechanical repairs last year is being returned to service.

That's good news for recreational boaters and area businesses who depend on the river during the summer months, according to a U.S. congressman.

Last month the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District, announced its repair fleet would replace the failed hydraulic pipelines that forced Lock 9 to be closed for anything other than emergency commercial lockages.

Lock 9 between Washington and Madison townships is the northernmost in a system of locks and dams along the Allegheny River.

The Allegheny River travels through Armstrong County from Parker in the north of the county to Freeport in the south.

"This is a great opportunity for boaters," said U.S. Rep. Phil English, R-Erie whose 3rd Congressional District includes some Armstrong County municipalities along the Allegheny River. "This is as attractive a stretch of river as I have seen in all my years as a boater."

Construction will begin Monday and will be completed by the end of that week in time for recreational use during the Memorial Day weekend.

English was joined Monday by the Armstrong County commissioners, local officials and members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a tour and assessment of the progress at the lock.

In campaigning for re-election last year, English said recreation was one of his main issues and specifically addressed the conditions at Lock 9. He said he has been monitoring the progress closely since, and has been working with local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the pipeline was fixed so that the lock could reopen.

He sent a letter urging the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize its funding for the needed repairs.

"They showed me what was needed and promised the work would be done," English said. "More work is still needed to the lock and to the locks below it. I'm targeting those projects in the next couple of appropriations. We need to make long-term improvements."

Locks in Armstrong County operate their seasonal schedule from May through October. Locks 5, 6, 7 and 8 operate Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12:30 p.m. to 8:10 p.m. and on Mondays from 8 a.m. to noon.

Lock 9 will be open from 12:30 to 8:10 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

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