Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that following his request, the Army Corps of Engineers has allocated a total of $74.675 million for Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Lower Mon locks and dams project. This figure amount to an increase of $72.5 million over the initial FY 2014 allocation for this project. This substantial increase will speed the project’s completion date by three years, and help create jobs and improve commerce on the waterways in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“I’m pleased that the Army Corps of Engineers has increased funding for locks and dams in its FY 2014 work plan,” Senator Casey said. “Investing in the locks and dams in and around Southwestern Pennsylvania will have a substantial impact on the region’s economy while making much needed upgrades to our waterways infrastructure. An estimated 200,000 jobs are supported by activity on the waterways in Southwestern Pennsylvania, making up nearly 17 percent of the region’s workforce. This investment will help our locks and dams remain a driving force in the economy for years to come.”
Senator Casey introduced legislation last year that would significantly bolster the nation’s locks and dams while creating jobs. The majority of Senator Casey’s RIVER Act was included in the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act, which is expected to pass this spring. One of his key provisions, which was also included in the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill, freed up significant funding for priority projects on the Inland Waterways, including the Lower Monongahela locks and dams. Casey then sent a letter to the Army Corps urging them to allocate this funding to the Lower Mon project, which can be seen in a letter below. In addition, the Administration announced continued support of this project in its FY 2015 budget released today.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy:
As you work to prepare the Army Corps Fiscal Year 2014 work plan, I write to urge you to increase funding for the Lower Mon project. In order to allow this project to move forward we must allocate more funding than the $1.96 million that was included in the Omnibus appropriations bill. Making a significant investment now will move the project forward, thereby spurring economic growth and job creation in the region for years to come.
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. The locks that need to be replaced as part of the project are over 100 years old and have significant structural, mechanical and hydraulic problems. Numerous industries rely on the river to transport their materials. If the waterways system fails, business will suffer and industry would see a significant increase in the cost of moving goods, which will drive up prices and harm the economy. Moreover, independent studies indicate that nearly 200,000 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 and creating jobs and supporting commerce. Alternatively, a failure to make a significant investment in this project at this time would have a negative effect on the economy both regionally and nationally. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator