Pennsylvania congress members advocate for state’s maritime economyView Source
U.S. Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) joined U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Fetterman (D-PA) and other members of the Pennsylvania delegation to outline their concerns regarding the lock and dam system on the Allegheny River.
In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Congress members said they were concerned about potential cuts in service to locks and what kind of an impact it would have on commercial and recreational boaters ability to move up and down the Allegheny River, as well as the impact it might have on economic development throughout the corridor.
At issue is Lock 5 on the Allegheny River in Armstrong County. Currently, the lock operates on a level of service which allows for only one daily shift, while Lock 6 through 9 all operate by appointment only. While volunteers in some communities near the locks have stepped up to staff the locks for recreational users, that is not a long-term solution, the Congress members said. Additionally, the lock service levels face further future cuts to operation hours which may force commercial operators to choose alternate routes, exacerbating the issue.
“While many of us are seeking a solution to the lockage hour issue through the Water Resources Development Act process, we respectfully request that USACE ensure the service levels remain unchanged in the short term,” the letter said. “Pausing any action that would reduce access and stymie growth will help our region maintain a robust and diverse economy centered on our river system.”
Advocates said the maritime economy is linked to the state’s economy.
“The future success of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy is intrinsically tied to our river system,” said Mary Ann Bucci, Executive Director of the Port of Pittsburgh. “Allowing any cuts in services to the lockages would be detrimental to the business community and would directly impact the livelihood of many residents”
Other Congressional members signing the letter include U.S. Reps Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Joyce, M.D. (R-PA), Chris Deluzio (D-PA), and Summer Lee (D-PA).