More Funding for Port of Pittsburgh District

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Port of Pittsburgh Commission Executive Director, James R. McCarville, praised the announcement from Senators Specter and Casey that additional funding was included for the locks and dams in the Port of Pittsburgh District.

These funds included $25m for rehabilitation of the Emsworth Dam; $21.4m for maintenance on the Ohio River; $16.8m for maintenance on the Mon; and $9m for maintenance on the Allegheny River and $1.75 for the important study of the navigation needs of the Upper Ohio River at Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery, all in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Not as sufficient, however, was the $6.2m for the rehabilitation of Locks and Dams 2-3-4 on the Lower Monongahela river, near Pittsburgh. The Port had been hoping for over $90m for that project, which won’t be forthcoming under this budget proposal.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water made similar recommendations last week, with $25m for Emsworth (sponsored by Reps. Altmire and Doyle); $21.5m in maintenance on the Ohio River, $16.8m on the Monongahela River and $9m for maintenance of the Allegheny (all three maintenance projects were sponsored by Rep. Doyle); $1.25 for the Upper Ohio River Navigation Study (sponsored by Rep. Altmire, Doyle and Murphy); and $6.2m for the Lower Mon 2-3-4 (sponsored by Reps. Doyle, Murphy and Murtha). All of the projects, except the navigation study, were included in the President’s budget as well.

The Port of Pittsburgh expressed its gratitude for the actions of these Congressmen and Senators in a tight budget situation. The lack of funding for the Lower Monongahela River project can be traced to an approaching insolvency in the Inland Waterway Users’ Trust Fund. The Olmsted project in Kentucky ate up nearly all of the available funding from that source.

“Thanks only to the stimulus funding, that the Lower Mon is not in a shutdown phase,” said McCarville. “There is a process in place to resolve a long term strategy for the Trust Fund, but it is complicated and not likely to be in place for FY 2010,” he said. “Like funding from the Highway Trust Fund, funding for the Lower Mon may continue to be scarce, until either the trust fund issues are resolved or, possibly, until an infrastructure stimulus package steps in to provide jobs.”

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