PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s well known that dams on Pittsburgh area rivers are dangerous for boaters, or anyone who is unaware.
The Army Corps of Engineers is now trying to help kayakers safely avoid the treacherous dam beyond Highland Park Bridge.
“Along the river bank, there’s signs,” said John Dilla, Chief of Locks and Dams for the Corps of Engineers. “Here along the river at Lock 2, there’s caissons. We need to do maintenance on those. So, look for those signs along the riverbank and the buoys are out there.”
Dilla motors toward the left side of the dam on an Army Corps boat.
The gates of Lock and Dam Number Two slowly open to admit the vessel and the kayaks that follow.
“The dam is there to maintain the navigation channel,” Dilla said. “But you can’t get around it safely. So the lock is there to get you around the dam.”
Hooks are lowered down the side of the lock, securing the kayaks as the water drops.
“We wait until every boat is secure and everybody’s tied off before closing those gates and then what he’s going to do is open up the emptying valve, just like pulling the plug in a bathtub and start letting the water out.”
The water drops 18 feet. It will take about thirty minutes from start to finish.
It’s not just the best way downriver, it’s the only way. Once the kayakers pass through the lock, they see the falls from the other side.
They see the power, the danger that they missed.