Construction at Charleroi locks included in federal appropriations

Mike Tony

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District announced last week that President Donald J. Trump’s fiscal year 2020 appropriations include funding slated to complete ongoing construction of the locks at Charleroi.

The federal budget includes $111 million designated for the Lower Monongahela River Project, to allow the Pittsburgh District to finish construction of the locks at Charleroi, finish dredging along the Monongahela and facilitate the removal of Locks and Dam 3 at Elizabeth.

Also included in the budget is $57.8 million in operations and maintenance funds for reliable navigation on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers, including $33.7 million for the Ohio River navigation system, $16.9 million for the Monongahela River and $7.2 million for the Allegheny River.

Waterway Councils, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Toohey criticized Trump’s budget request for slashing funding from the enacted fiscal year 2019 level, calling it “(not) unexpected based on past Office of Management and Budget requests from any administration (yet) still very disappointing considering the president’s many positive pronouncements on the importance of infrastructure investment.”

Corps leaders said last week the administration’s 2020 civil works proposal would include $2.2 billion for construction, according to the Engineering News-Record, which noted that allotment was down 46 percent from the 2019 enacted total, and $1.9 billion for operation and maintenance activities, a 48 percent drop from this year.

Monongahela River locks and dams 2, 3 and 4 would collectively be one of four projects “funded to completion,” the Engineering News-Record quoted R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, as saying last week.

Charleroi Locks and Dam is one of nine navigation structures which provide for year-round navigation on the Monongahela River between Pittsburgh and Fairmont, W.Va., maintaining a pool for 19.7 miles upstream to Maxwell Lock and Dam just south of Brownsville, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Construction of Lock and Dam 4 at the Charleroi site was completed in 1932, and a major project rehabilitation was completed in 1967, resulting in a newly gated dam and a pool level raised by 6 feet.