Feb. 19–For too long, the Allegheny River’s locks and dams have been shortchanged on funding for necessary upkeep, making maintenance and repairs long overdue. The Alle-Kiski Valley should embrace the dramatic fiscal-year 2018 boost in such funding for this infrastructure that President Trump’s budget proposes — and press for that funding to get through Congress intact.
Lack of commercial traffic, a key federal-funding factor, has hindered financing such work on these local locks and dams for a decade or so. Thus, they sorely need the $18 million proposed for fiscal 2018, up from $5 million in fiscal 2017. Included would be repairing concrete walls at Lock No. 2 near the Highland Park Bridge — the busiest lock for recreational-boat traffic in the Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District, with walls so decayed that the Corps considers them dangerous.
Under Mr. Trump’s fiscal 2019 proposal, Allegheny River lock-and-dam funding would drop to $7.9 million, but that still would be more than its $5 million level in recent years. And that’s when the Corps plans to boost local staffing, including at four Armstrong County locks it opens on summer weekends for recreational boaters, with financial help from the nonprofit Allegheny River Development Corp.
Of course, this prospective brighter future for these locks and dams hinges on final approval through the often messy congressional budget process. It’s up to Alle-Kiski Valley residents to urge, and their Capitol Hill representatives to ensure, that this money comes through.