Casey, Pittsburgh Business Leaders Call on Congress to Fully Fund Southwest PA’s Locks and Dams in Upcoming Budget

Region’s Locks and Dams Support 200,000 Total Jobs- Critical Part of Region’s Economy

Full Funding for Project Would Create Jobs, Boost Economic Growth in Southwestern PA

PITTSBURGH, PA – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on Congress to fully fund the region’s locks and dams in the upcoming budget. Standing with Pittsburgh business leaders on The Empress, a vessel of the Gateway Clipper Fleet, Senator Casey said that fully funding locks and dams will save and create jobs while boosting economic growth in the region.

“Shipping activity supports nearly 17% of the region’s workforce, so it’s vitally important for jobs and the region’s economy to maintain our waterways,” said Senator Casey. “I’m pushing Congress to fully fund Southwestern Pennsylvania’s locks and dams because doing so will improve the region’s infrastructure and foster economic growth and job creation.”

Senator Casey today released a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee calling for funding locks and dams at $36.5 million on the Monongahela River and $20.4 million for locks and dams on the Ohio River to rehabilitate the regions aging infrastructure.

Senator Casey was joined by Mike Toohey, President of Waterways Council, and Rich Kreider of Campbell Transportation to detail the impact that locks and dams have on the jobs and commerce in the region. For instance, an independent study by Martin Associates found that nearly 220,000 jobs in the region are supported by the Port of Pittsburgh’s activity.  This includes 15,000 waterway transportation jobs; 30,000 manufacturing jobs, and nearly 175,000 indirect jobs.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald also joined Senator Casey to support his push for funding. "Locks and dams are so vital to our economy and our ability to move goods through our waterways in this region," Fitzgerald said. "We are grateful to have an advocate in Senator Casey who is focused on the need to support funding for locks and dams, specifically the Lower Mon project.  Completing this project is absolutely critical to our industry and community and we are grateful for his support."

Senator Casey’s letter to the Appropriations Committee is below:

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye             The Honorable Thad Cochran                 

Chairman                                                      Vice Chairman

Senate Committee on Appropriations     Senate Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Diane Feinstein               The Honorable Lamar Alexander           

Chairwoman                                                 Ranking Member               

Appropriations Subcommittee                 Appropriations Subcommittee

on Energy and Water Development        on Energy and Water Development

Dear Chairmen, Vice Chairman, and Ranking Member:

I strongly urge the Committee to provide robust funding for the locks and dams in the southwestern region of Pennsylvania in the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill.

The rivers of southwest Pennsylvania play a vital role in the economic health of the region.  Numerous industries rely on the rivers for efficient transport of commodities including coal, sand, gravel, iron ore, fuel, asphalt and steel, among others.  I fully support the Administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget requests for $36,650,000 for the locks and dams 2, 3, and 4 on the Monongahela River and $20,362,000 for the Locks and Dams on the Ohio River in the Pittsburgh district. 

Like many areas across the country, the waterways system in southwestern Pennsylvania is suffering from crumbling and aging infrastructure that could seriously impair the transport of major commodities if not properly maintained.  Some of the locks in the region are over 100 years old and have significant structural, mechanical and hydraulic problems.  We must invest in maintaining the locks and dams in order to prevent a possible catastrophe if the aging infrastructure would fail.  Numerous industries rely on the river to transport their materials and if the lock and dams system fails, business will suffer and industry would see a significant increase in the cost of moving goods, which will drive up prices and hinder the regional economy.  Moreover, independent studies indicate that nearly 220,000 jobs are supported by activity on the waterways in southwestern Pennsylvania, making up nearly 17 percent of the region’s workforce.

I firmly believe that investments in the locks and dams are vital to maintaining jobs and supporting commerce.  Alternatively, a failure to invest in these projects at this time would have a devastating effect on the region’s economy.  Thank you for your attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator