First Controlled Demolition Date Set for Dam on Monongahela River Near Elizabeth

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District has scheduled July 10 as the first controlled demolition date to remove the fixed-crest dam on the Monongahela River near Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.

WHO: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District (USACE).

WHAT: Conduct a controlled demolition of the first 50-foot section using explosives to breach the dam at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3. There will be 13 more demolitions on a weekly basis after this first one.

WHERE: The Pittsburgh District will have an engineer and public affairs representatives available for media interviews at the riverwalk overlook next to the Elizabeth Borough Volunteer Social Hall on S. Water Street. Google Maps location link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/YYCBdfp7AoT4nwLw8

WHEN: A district engineer will be available for interviews Wednesday, July 10, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. The demolition time is anticipated between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. The exact time of demolition will depend on river conditions and worksite preparations.

WHY: Removing the dam will create a continuous pool of riverway stretching 30 miles from Charleroi to Braddock, Pennsylvania, improving navigation on the Lower Monongahela River.

The following video links illustrate the demolition process.

Demolition animation video: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/929585/animation-demolition-process-dam-near-elizabeth

Braddock Dam demolition video: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/923854

Removing the dam is part of the Lower Monongahela River Project. Once complete, the project is expected to bring an economic benefit of $200 million annually, including cost-time savings in transporting commodities through the region using inland navigation and reduced maintenance costs.

The U.S. Coast Guard will restrict river traffic beginning at 9 a.m. and has set the restriction zone at 1,500 feet up and downstream of the dam. A security perimeter will also restrict road and pedestrian traffic from entering a 500-foot radius zone surrounding the demolition site. The public is prohibited inside the security perimeter.

A portion of Bunola River Road, located along the navigation facility, will close to traffic for at least 15 minutes before the demolition. The demolition can only occur after the contractor has confirmed the perimeter is clear.

“Our primary concern is maintaining everyone’s safety throughout the demolition phase,” said Steve Fritz, the district’s megaproject program manager.

The Pittsburgh District reminds drone operators they are prohibited from flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over federally operated structures at reservoirs, dams, and lock facilities on federal lands without clearance from the district’s Geospatial Section. Due to safety and security concerns, all remote pilots must keep drones outside the security perimeter extending within 500-foot radius from the dam.

advertisement

UAVs entering this zone will delay in the demolition schedule and interfere with our contractor’s safety procedures. Any remote pilot who causes interference, damage or injury is subject to fines and is liable for damages caused. For further questions on this matter, contact the Pittsburgh District’s Geospatial Section, please email: Geospatial.LRP@usace.army.mil.

The lock chambers will close to navigation for at least three days following the initial demolition. Depending on river flows conditions, the closure may extend up to 12 days.

The Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3 has been operating since 1907, but the facility is prone to flooding and must therefore be shut down during high-water events, resulting in navigation delays. Removing the dam will create a continuous pool of riverway stretching 30 miles.

The work to remove the rest of the dam will continue through December. Until the Corps removes the entire dam and verifies the navigation channel is safe, all traffic must pass through the landside lock. After the initial demolition, contractors will perform additional demolitions once per week, requiring the locks to close for three hours or less.

After the dam is removed and the riverway is cleared, waterway users can navigate through the area without using the lock chambers.

The Pittsburgh District will begin removing the lock walls in 2025, and work is expected to last until 2027.

Removing the dam will raise the river’s water levels by approximately two feet for communities between Elizabeth and Braddock. The river elevation will drop by approximately 3.2 feet between Elizabeth and the dam in Charleroi. The demolition will result in the pool level reaching 723.7 feet between Charleroi and Braddock.

The Pittsburgh District added navigation safety signs and buoys upstream and downstream of the dam to warn the river of hazardous conditions during the upcoming demolition. It is best to maintain a safe distance between the construction crews and regular navigation to avoid accidents.

“Safety is of utmost importance in everything we do, especially with a construction or demolition project of this magnitude,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Tabacchi, the Pittsburgh District deputy commander. “We are coordinating with our contractors, the U.S. Coast Guard, and our waterway partners to ensure the safety of the public, our staff, and contractors involved in this work.”

More information about the project and related documents are available at https://www.lrd.usace.army.mil/Submit-ArticleCS/Projects/Article/3640563/lower-monongahela-river-project.