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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hosts groundbreaking to kick off construction at Montgomery Locks and Dam on upper Ohio River (release)

August 9, 2023   U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Pittsburgh District

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District will host a groundbreaking ceremony at Montgomery Locks and Dam to kick off construction to update the Ohio River’s oldest and smallest navigation facilities.


WHO: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District


GUEST SPEAKERS: Senior Advisor to President Biden and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu


Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jaime Pinkham


United States Senator Robert Casey


WHAT: The Upper Ohio Navigation Project is a multi-billion-dollar construction project that will replace locks at Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery locks and dams. The project will replace the auxiliary chambers, measuring 56 feet wide by 360 feet long, with locks measuring 110 feet wide by 600 feet long.


WHEN: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Friday, August 11, 2023.


WHERE: 100 Montgomery Dam Road, Monaca, PA 15061-2221.


WHY: The Corps of Engineers built Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery locks and dams in the mid-1930s, and now they have reached the end of their operational lifespan and are experiencing structural aging. They also need larger chambers for today’s commercial barges. Maintenance activities on these smaller locks can cause navigational bottlenecks if the locks are closed to perform the work. The new, larger chambers will provide reliable, efficient, and sustainable navigation on the upper Ohio River. The economic impact of a one-year closure at Montgomery Locks and Dam would cost the U.S. economy nearly $180 million. The roughly 12 million tons of cargo would require over 100,000 rail cars or 400,000 trucks to compensate for the closure.


President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided $857 million for constructing the new chamber at Montgomery Locks and Dam and $77 million for designing the new lock chamber at Emsworth Locks and Dams.


“The Southwestern Pennsylvania economy couldn’t function without the Montgomery Locks and Dam. I worked to secure this investment from the infrastructure law so the Army Corps can upgrade the locks and dam to keep commerce flowing through our region,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).


“Our technology has come a long way since the Army Corps built these locks nearly a 100 years ago,” said Steve Fritz, the Mega Project program manager for the Pittsburgh District.


“The upgrades we are making at Montgomery Locks and Dam are just the first of three major investments to modernize the upper Ohio River navigation system,” said Fritz. “We are building larger, newer, better locks that will provide a resilient navigation system in the Pittsburgh region for the next 100 years. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a significant boost to a much-needed infrastructure investment on the upper Ohio River.”


Transporting bulk commodities on the waterways is less expensive than trucks and rail. Approximately 15 to 20 million tons of goods, valued at more than $2 billion, pass through the upper Ohio River system annually. The Corps of Engineers expects the Upper Ohio Navigation Project to generate more than 28,000 jobs during construction and 5,300 jobs annually after completion.


“The navigation system plays an important role in the local and national economy,” said John Dilla, the Locks and Dams Branch chief for the Pittsburgh District. “Our locks provide consistent, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly means for transporting large volumes of commodities across long distances safely and effectively.”


"I look forward to celebrating the start of another investment from the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Jaime Pinkham, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “Our inland waterways are a critical artery sustaining the nation's economy and families by delivering goods to our homes, connecting us to global markets, and bolstering employment. The investments we are making today will reinvigorate navigation and make it resilient to provide significant benefits for years to come."