U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Scott Beveridge

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun a full-scale dredging of the Monongahela River to maintain a navigational channel after an old dam is removed in Elizabeth.

The Corps has set up two massive dredging rigs on the river between Donora and Webster with plans to remove a million cubic yards of sand and gravel from the river bottom, project manager Steve Frost said.

“We’re currently working on a new, wider navigation channel,” Frost said.

The $40 million project was awarded to Amherst Madison of West Virginia to complete the dredging between Braddock, where a new dam was built, and upriver from Charleroi, where work is ongoing to construct new lock, Frost said.

The work on the lower Mon dates to a 1992 feasibility study that recommended turning two navigational pools into one and replacing or removing aging infrastructure.

Frost said initial testing of the river bottom found contaminated areas or “hot spots” that were removed and taken around 2003 to proper disposal sites. The rest of the dredged material will be spread over an old slag dump the Corps owns in the Victory Hollow area of Carroll Township, Frost said.

The material being spread over the 40-acre dump will be beneficial to the property, Frost said.

The Corps also will lower or extend public-owned facilities, such as the Webster boat launch and stage at the Monongahela Aquatorium, to adjust them to the changing river levels, Frost said.

The dredging is expected to be completed in April 2021.