Mon River traffic shut down this morning for scheduled repairs to Lock and Dam 4 at Charleroi, which should be completed August 3rd.
This work is patchwork, not the construction of new locks that was supposed to be completed in 2004 but now may not see funding until 2024 or 2025, according to Dan Jones of the Army Corps of Engineers.
This 19-day shutdown could be planned for by the companies that rely on barge traffic so they could stockpile materials, but there's a real danger of complete failure in one of the Pittsburgh District's aging locks and dams that could cause problems beyond the higher shipping costs of rail and truck, according to Jones. "There's a lot of communities along the rivers that have water intakes into those pools, so … they could severely impact the ability of communities to provide drinking water for their citizens."
The locks and dams were designed to last for 50 years, but Jones said they average 90 on the Lower Monongahela.
Repairs and new construction are funded by a navigation fuel tax that goes into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and assigned to projects based on traffic volume. Dan Jones said the Olmsted Locks and Dams at mile 964.4 of the Ohio River near Olmsted, Illinois are a higher priority than Charleroi.