Officials Hopeful Of Finally Obtaining Funding For Lower Mon Locks, Dams Project

Area congressmen are optimistic that federal funds will be available soon for a full year’s work of upgrading locks and dams on the lower Monongahela River.

John Rizzo, spokesman for Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, said Wednesday a bill with $52 million for the Lower Mon Project was released May 21 by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Matt Dinkel, spokesman for Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said that $52 million is included in House of Representatives Bill 2028, an appropriations measure passed May 1.

Part of a $1.7 billion project, the $52 million is to be used in fiscal 2015-16 at the Charleroi No. 4 Locks and Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers.

That’s part of a project to upgrade Charleroi No. 4 and Braddock No. 2 locks and dams and eliminate Elizabeth No. 3 Locks and Dam.

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Hearing Call Of ‘All Aboard’? Experts Discuss Feasibility Of Passenger Rail Service

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority President Lawrence Malski said Monday studies show major industries are looking to get out of congested metropolitan areas and move to areas like NEPA.

Passenger rail service that links Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, he said, would be a major factor in attracting those companies to the area. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, suggested the idea on Friday to spur economic activity.

“It’s (passenger rail service) is a major requirement that they have,” Malski said. “When you connect cities like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton to a major city like New York, major industries will follow that rail line out here because they would have an efficient and reliable form of transportation for workers.”

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Rep. Barletta Working To Beautify Blighted Hazleton Trestle

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou ...

English: Official portrait of Congressman Lou Barletta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congressman Lou Barletta is all too familiar with efforts to spruce up a railroad trestle near the southern gateway to his hometown Hazleton.

Plans for beautifying the South Church Street bridge were developed by Greater Hazleton Civic Partnership during his tenure as Hazleton’s mayor.

Officials at the time believed they had the answer to addressing the graffiti-covered trestle by having Hazleton artist Dave Corrado paint a mural on wood, which would have been mounted to the bridge, Barletta recalled.

The idea fell by the wayside after local officials learned that the wooden mural would have interfered with bridge inspections.

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Amtrak’s Regulars Treasure The Pennsylvanian

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnsto...

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnstown train station in Johnstown, . The train is Amtrak’s #42 Pennsylvanian. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABOARD THE AMTRAK PENNSYLVANIAN — The steady rumble of steel wheels on tracks is punctuated by the wail of a locomotive horn and then, oddly, by the pop of a champagne cork.

It’s 8:30 a.m., and Amanda McCoy and Kim Christen are living it up in the cafe car. On the table are boxes of a Polish pastry called paczki, orange juice and a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly.

It’s mimosa time.

Ms. McCoy, of Indiana Township, and Ms. Christen, of West View, also have bread, garlic bologna, lettuce, tomato and a travel Scrabble set for the long ride. “We’re veterans,” Ms. McCoy says. “We know how to do it.”

Like many others aboard the train, they swear by it, and recoil at the possibility that the one daily Amtrak train serving Pittsburgh and Harrisburg will be eliminated in October.

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