Pittsburgh District to Demolish Dam in Monongahela River after more than 100 years of Navigation

After more than 100 years of operation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District will demolish the navigation dam near Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, to improve navigation on the Monongahela River.

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

The Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3 remains in operation year-round, including during foggy conditions in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, Jan. 25, 2024. The Elizabeth Dam is scheduled for removal in the summer of 2024. USACE PHOTO BY MICHEL SAURET

District contractors will begin demolition the dam the week of July 8, 2024, using explosives to control demolition. The district will restrict navigation near Elizabeth for at least three days. Work to remove the dam entirely will continue through the end of the year.

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

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Until the entire dam is removed, and until the Corps verifies the navigation channel is safe through that area, all traffic will have to continue to go through the lock.

The Pittsburgh District will begin to remove the lock chamber walls next year, which is expected to last until 2027.

Monongahela River Locks and Dam 3 in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania
Removing Dam 3 will help equalize the pool on the Monongahela River between the Charleroi and Braddock locks and dams, forming a 30-mile stretch of navigable waterway. The expanded pool will benefit the navigation industry by cutting transportation time in half to pass through the region. The dam’s removal is part of the Lower Monongahela River Project, which constructed upgrades at Braddock and Charleroi in preparation for Elizabeth’s removal. USACE PHOTO BY MICHEL SAURET

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.

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