“Fantastic”, was the response that James R. McCarville, Executive Director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, had to the announcement that the US Army Corps of Engineers planned to spend over $110m in Stimulus funding for navigation in southwestern Pa.
Specifically, the $84m scheduled for Charleroi Lock in the Lower Mon 2-3-4 project, rescues a billion dollar project that otherwise might have had to go on to life support/shutdown. Those funds will be used to complete the construction of the river wall, and construct a new Upper Guard Wall and a new Lower Guard Wall to safely guide vessels in and out of the chamber.
Thirteen million will be added to the $25.8m in the FY09 budget for repairs to the Emsworth Dam and $285,000 will be added to the $4m for the study of Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery Locks and Dams, a study for the long term solution for a possible replacement of the three facilities.
In addition, the Stimulus Package will provide for much needed maintenance on the Three Rivers, including $7.3m for Allegheny River, which had been on a “fix as fail” basis; $2.3m for the Monongahela River; and $3.1m for the Ohio River.
The Corps district, which is larger than the Port Commission district, marked additional funding for facilities on the Upper Monongahela in WV and on the Upper Ohio River in WV and OH, as well as $5.4m for Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program.
“The Charleroi situation, as part of the Lower Mon Project, was the most critical”, said McCarville, adding that “it protects the pool with US Steel’s Clairton Coking Plant, and several power plants. The entire project, which started in 1994 as a $750 million project, was supposed to be completed in 2004. We are now running 15 years behind schedule and, until this Package was approved, falling even faster. With this funding, and anticipated future funding, we still might make a 2016-2019 completion period,” he said.
McCarville praised our Congressional delegation, “especially Rep. Murtha and Sen. Specter that stayed engaged in this process and also the employees of the Corps of Engineers. There were a lot of man-hours expended by the men and women of the Corps to detail how serious these problems were and to make sure the package got the priorities right.”