Trump Budget Puts Monongahela River Dams and Locks Project at Risk

River infrastructure is often a target for budget cuts in presidential budgets, only to receive funding from Congress. A huge project to replace dams and locks on the Monongahela River hangs in the balance.
June 17, 2017, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander, Brig. Gen. Richard Kaiser visited the Pittsburgh District in 2014.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

"President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would bring to a screeching halt work on a Monongahela River project that political and business leaders say is vital to the region’s economy," reports Len Boselovic.

The project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would "replace three sets of aging locks and dams at Braddock, Elizabeth and Charleroi." Congress authorized the project 25 years ago at $750 million. But "[i]nconsistent, delayed funding has increased the project’s cost to between $1.2 billion and $2.7 billion," according to Boselovic.

According to river experts cited in the article, every year there's a dance between presidential budget proposals and the final versions approved by Congress. "For years, under different administrations, the White House consistently has proposed low funding for river infrastructure only to see Congress appropriate significantly more," explains Boselovic.

The article includes more details on the condition of the dams targeted for replacement—Army Corps believes the 110-year-old dam at Elizabeth, for example, is in danger of failing.

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Published on Saturday, June 3, 2017 in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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