The White House announced $77 million in federal infrastructure funding to upgrade the Emsworth Locks and Dams on the Upper Ohio River in Allegheny County.
The funding will be used to build new lock chambers that “will allow large freighters to reliably and efficiently traverse the upper Ohio River system, relieving landside congestion and facilitating the rapid delivery of goods,” according to the administration.
The improvements to the Emsworth site are in addition to the $857 million that has been allocated for the Montgomery Lock and Dam in Beaver County. The Pittsburgh area was rewarded with about a third of all the money Congress allocated to inland waterways in the bipartisan $1.2 infrastructure bill passed last year.
Rep. American Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon represents the Upper Ohio Valley region. He hailed the passage of the infrastructure law for allocating funds for the repair of locks and dams.
“This is another big win for our region, for creating jobs and for ensuring our economy continues to grow,” Lamb said.
Pennsylvania’s southwestern waterways were the county’s fourth-busiest inland port before the pandemic. According to the Pittsburgh Harbor Commission, boat traffic delays increased in February as work is underway at the Emsworth and Dashfield locks. Maintenance work closed the 600ft main airlock at Emsworth until 15 April.
Pittsburgh Port Commission Director Mary Ann Bucci said Pittsburgh’s waterways are critical to the movement of freight in the region, and funding Emsworth and other area infrastructure increases competitiveness. of Pittsburgh in the shipping industry.
In 2020 Emsworth Locks and Weirs underwent a major rehabilitation project which closed and dewatered the facility’s main lock, and the chamber walls were reinforced with at least 14 large metal spacers.
Additionally, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced a deal last year for the Emsworth Locks and Dams to generate hydroelectricity. This project is expected to be completed in 2023. Fitzgerald said the $77 million federal funding will be in addition to improvements to the Emsworth site.
“This investment also allows us to consider additional improvements, including hydroelectricity, to leverage the uses of our rivers,” Fitzgerald said.
Additionally, four water infrastructure projects in southwestern Pennsylvania have received nearly $5 million in funding, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey announced Thursday. They include: Conemaugh River Lake in Indiana County, Crooked Creek Lake in Armstrong County, Loyalhanna Lake in Westmoreland County, and Youghiogheny River Lake in Somerset County.