PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Army Corps of Engineers has announced it is decreasing lock service on the Allegheny River. Officials say the reduction is the result of federal budget cuts.
Allegheny River’s Lock No. 2 has clearly seen better days.
“The working surface for the people is bald, and it’s really quite a challenge for these folks. If you walk up to the edge… you can see that steel portion that’s painted bright yellow, but if you look here you can see that in many places the concrete behind it is completely missing, and that’s just a matter of time,” said Rich Lockwood, of the Army Corps of Engineers.
No one disputes that the locks and dams along the river are the key to moving people and freight through the area, but shrinking federal dollars has put the Army Corps of Engineers in a bind.
“If something goes wrong on these locks and dams, which are 70- to 80-years-old, there’s no guarantee there will be maintenance funds to keep them running,” Mary Ann Bucci, of the Port of Pittsburgh, said.
With operating funds cut in half nationwide, it means significant cuts in the number of hours locks up and down the river will be open.
Locks 2 through 5 will cut hours from round-the-clock service to two eight hour shifts during the week from 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Locks 6 and 7 will operate a single shift in the summer during weekends and holidays, with other hours scheduled by appointment.
Locks 8 and 9, both north of Kittanning, will close to recreational boaters.
With 5 of those facilities in her area and millions in river commerce at stake, Armstrong County Commissioner Patty Kirkpatrick says the federal government is falling behind.
“They placed the infrastructure here, they are the ones that determined that these locks needed to be in place,” she said. “They also need to be the ones that have to look to help to sustain it, especially on the maintenance side because it’s going to take a large price tag. They have not put the dollars into maintenance over the years.”