Corps awards Monongahela River lock and dam removal contract

Written by Marine Log Staff
Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3

Aerial view of Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3 at Elizabeth, P/a, July 21, 2023. [USACE photo by: Michel Sauret]

The Pittsburgh Engineer District has awarded the Joseph B. Fay Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. , a nearly $30 million contract to remove the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3 in Elizabeth, Pa.

The work is part of the Lower Monongahela River project, which includes the construction of the larger lock chamber at Locks and Dam 4 at river mile 41.5 near Charleroi and the replacement of the fixed-crest dam with a gated dam at Locks and Dam 2 in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

The work involves a controlled removal of the locks and dam to equalize the upstream and downstream river levels. Corps of Engineers contractors will remove the locks and dam concrete debris and repurpose it to stabilize the facility’s land wall and dam abutment, which will remain in place.

“Removing this facility creates 30 miles of unimpeded navigable waterways for everyone navigating the river between Charleroi and Braddock,” said Steve Fritz, the district’s megaproject program manager. “This is a major milestone for the Lower Monongahela River project. Once the dam is completely removed, the project will generate nearly $200 million of average annual benefits for the region and the nation.”

Physical work to deconstruct the dam is expected to begin in mid-2024. River vessels will continue to use the locks until the dam is completely removed. Following the dam removal, contractors will remove the facility’s locks.

“The Monongahela River is vital to the economic strength of communities across southwestern Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D.-Pa). “This lock removal project will allow commerce to flow with greater ease and efficiency, creating jobs and boosting the economy of the Mon Valley and the region in the years to come.”

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated with the district to mitigate potential effects on fisheries caused by the contract work.

In June, the district awarded a separate contract to build 73 fish reefs on the Monongahela River to mitigate fish habitat loss caused by removing Locks and Dam 3. The Corps of Engineers expects the reefs to be completed before removing the dam.

Elizabeth Locks and Dam is one of nine navigation structures on the Monongahela River that provide navigation from Fairmont, West Virginia, to downtown Pittsburgh. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started constructing Elizabeth Locks and Dam in 1905 and finished in 1907, when the facility began operation. The lock is located at river mile 23.8.

Locks and Dams 2, 3, and 4 on the Monongahela River in Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties are the three oldest currently-operating navigation facilities on the Monongahela River. These locks experience the highest volume of commercial traffic on the entire Monongahela River navigation system, and the pools created by these facilities provide industrial and municipal water and are popular with recreational boaters.

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