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Ohio Navigable Waterways (non-Great Lakes)

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I'm amazed we have no such thread, especially since it's the most efficient way to move large amounts of bulk goods -- especially aggregates and minerals...

 

That's especially true if electricity is used instead of fossil fuels!

 

Trolley Canal Boats

Posted by Gail the Actuary on January 8, 2010 - 10:26am

Topic: Environment/Sustainability

Tags: canal boats, trolley

 

This is a guest post by Kris De Decker. Readers will remember that Kris was the author of the Oil Drum post Wind Powered Factories. A longer version of this post on trolley canal boats was published in low tech magazine.

 

For many centuries, canal boats were propelled by men, horses or mules on the towpath beside the water. Before diesel power took over, engineers developed several interesting methods powered by electricity: trolleyboats, floating funiculars and electric mules. Many of these ecological solutions could be applied today instead of diesel engines. Because of the very low energy requirements, they could easily be powered by renewable energy, generated on the spot by water turbines located at sluices. One trolleyboat line is still in use.

 

Most of these systems are at least four times more efficient than diesel powered barges.

 

READ MORE AT:

http://campfire.theoildrum.com/node/6103

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Ive been fascinated with Midwest canals since I was a kid, but there was almost nothing left where I grew up in Indiana.

 

Does Ohio still have any working, not recreational canals? I know there are sections of the Miami and Erie at Providence/Grand Rapids near Toledo that have excursion boats...How about down by Zanesville, along the Muskingum?

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    The Muskingum River and the Ohio River are canalized rivers. We don't think of them as canals, because they started out as natural rivers, but they are operated like canals, with provisions to resist damage during floods. The Ohio River in Cincinnati is 12 feet deeper than it was originally. No one alive today has ever seen the original, natural river except in old photographs.

 

  The Muskingum locks are from the 1890 era and are still hand operated. In fact, the Muskingum River is the only hand-operated system remainining in the United States. The Muskingum system no longer carries any commercial traffic, and is operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It is lightly used. There is a short section of inland canal at one of the Muskingum dams.

 

    The Ohio River locks and dams are operated by the Army Corps of Engineers and replaced smaller, earlier locks and dams.

 

    There are remnants of the inland canals scattered all over the state. A segment of the Miami and Erie Canal near Piqua still operates as a tourist attraction. Metamora, Indiana also has an operating segment. The Kentucky River in Kentucky is a canalized river, but only the first three locks are still operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The rest of the dams are still there, but the locks are permanently closed.

 

    There are three main drawbacks to the canals. One, they freeze in winter. Two, they are the slowest form of transportation. Three, they are very limited in reach because they depend on a steady water supply and a route as level as possible. These are the primary reasons why they are no longer used.

 

  In the early 1900's, there were plans to upgrade the Ohio inland canals. The Miami and Erie Canal would have been upgraded to a ship canal. By that time canals were already falling out of favor, and the projected traffic didn't justify the construction expense. There was also a serious proposal to connect the Ohio River with Lake Erie via a new canal from the Pittsburgh area. An older, pre-railroad proposal would have connected Chesapeake Bay with the Ohio River: this canal morphed into a railroad by the time it was finished. Pennsylvania built a fantastic system of inclines and canals that carried special canal boats across the mountains; it was an economic failure.

 

    The canal that started it all, the Eire Canal connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie, was upgraded to a barge canal in the 1920's. It is still in operation, though commercial traffic is rare. It is a good example of 1920's technology with it's many lift bridges, which are still manned. The fact that the Erie Canal carries very little commercial traffic basucly prohibits the construction of new ship canals in this country. A canal between the Tennessee River and Tombigbee River, allowing a connection between the Ohio River and Mobile Bay without going through New Orleans, carried little commercial traffic. There is a proposal to construct a canal across the Florida Peninsula at Tampa, reducing the travel distance between Houston and the East Coast; this might be the only one that is economically viable.

 

    As the canals suffered from railroad competition, the railroads suffered from highway competition. Canals are by far more energy efficient; railroads are second, and highways are worst. Then why do we transport so much by highway? The answer is speed. Even if railroads are operated at a high velocity, the door-to-door service is most often faster by highway. Only for bulk loads over long distance do railroads make sense, and even more so for canals. Thus, the Ohio River carries Coal, scrap metal, sand, limestone, garbage, petroleum, and such things. No longer does the Ohio River carry finished goods. New automobiles were shipped on the Ohio River as late as 1960.

 

    Most industries that use these materials have located on the Ohio River or Lake Erie ports. There really isn't any need to transport them inland.

 

    As mineral energy supplies are mined out, the picture is going to change. I can't say if it will change for the better or worse. We will no longer be able to move things by highway; in fact, we won't be able to move them by rail, or even barge eventually. On the other hand, there will be nothing left to move except agricultural products. The canals were the first step in the transportation revolution, which accompanied the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution is a one-time event thay may last 500 years. Will we be going back to mule-drawn canal boats someday? I don't know.

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Pretty much what E&S said, though it is worth noting that Europe takes greater advantage of its waterways (esp. the Rhine) and less advantage of rail for freight than the U.S.. Trucks carry higher percentages in Europe than the U.S. England is heavily canalized, many of which are all but abandoned these days, though used more than in the U.S.

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E&S, I didn't know that about the Muskingum River. Thanks!

 

Even if the off-and-on plans to build a canal to link Lake Erie to the Ohio River via Youngstown had been realized, it would have been negated by the advent of the electric arc furnace and the popularity of recycling steel. The electric arc furnace negates the need to move coal to the steel mill and the growth of recycling of steel scrap negates the need to move iron ore and limestone/dolomite to the mill.

 

Still, I suspect there may be increases in the usage of water transportation for commercial traffic in the near future, especially in moving coal to powerplants and liquefaction facilities (as much as those thoughts bother me).

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  Speaking of the Rhine, the Maine-Danube canal opened a decade or two ago linking the Maine, a tributary to the Rhine, to the Danube, linking the Atlantic with the Black Sea. This idea was conceived centuries ago, and a smaller canal had already failed. This is a modern ship and barge canal, able to handle pretty big river vessels. It carries a lot of recreational traffic, but the commercial traffic is moderate. The cost/benefit ratio, calculated after construction based on actual traffic, is borderline.

 

    In the United States, all of the transportation modes including rail, highway, water, and pipeline have increased in the last 50 years except one: Great Lakes shipping. What used to look like a good idea to connect the Ohio River with the Great Lakes with a ship canal doesn't look as promising anymore.

 

 

 

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OK, this also includes Lake Erie (in addition to the Ohio River)......

 

Lake Erie and Ohio River are designated Ohio Department of Transportation's Marine Highway Corridors

By Karen Farkas, The Plain Dealer

January 19, 2010, 9:03PM

 

The Ohio Department of Transportation won't ever have to pave, plow or patch its two newest highways.

 

The Ohio River and Lake Erie have been designated Marine Highway Corridors to promote the use of waterways to move people and freight and ease congestion on roads and rail lines.

 

More: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/01/lake_erie_and_ohio_river_are_d.html

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Texas? How are ports normally ranked, by value of goods? I though LA/Long Beach was the largest port in the US, followed by NY/NJ.

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It says cargo volume, which makes sense considering the amount of petroleum exported from Texas. Texas is also a big military outload port for the Military Sealift Command

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Yes, it's by metric tons (says so at the top!).

 

And we don't export petroleum from Texas anymore (or anywhere in America). We import it (two-thirds of our consumption!). There are a ton of refineries in Texas and Louisiana, as well as the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) where much of the oil from overseas gets pumped from huge oil tankers into an underwater pipeline bound for refineries along and near the Texas and Louisiana coast...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Offshore_Oil_Port

 

Anyway, I posted it because I was surprised to see the Huntington-Tristate area on there. Again, it's because of tonnage. And lots of coal comes out of that area.

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Anyone have further details? Figured some of you might have some insight on which bridges are involved? What lift bridge does GCRTA own? Why are they mentioned??

 

 

CLEVELAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

Draft Agenda for October 7, 2011

 

Ordinance No. 1204-11(Ward 3/Councilman Cimperman): Authorizing the Director of Capital Projects to employ one or more professional consultants to conduct a remote bridge operation feasibility study  for up to six movable bridges and to recommend improvements; determining the method of making the public improvement of constructing the accepted improvements regarding bridge operation; authorizing the Director of Capital Projects to enter into one or more public improvement contracts for the making of the improvement; authorizing the Commissioner of Purchases and Supplies to acquire for right-of-way purposes such real property as is necessary to make the public improvement; to apply for and accept grants from public and private entities; authorizing the director to enter into one or more contracts with the railroad company and/or GCRTA to obtain services and enter into agreements; authorizing the director to enter into a Local Project Administration agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation to make the improvement; and authorizing an agreement with the United States Coast Guard.

 

http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/designreview/drcagenda/2011/10072011/index.php#gallery

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Remnants of the Miami-Auglaize-Maumee cross state canal are used to supply water for agriculture in western Ohio.  I think the Portage Lakes are used to supply municipal water.

 

http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/water/watleesc/tabid/3315/Default.aspx

 

Canal Water Sales

  The Department sells water from two watered sections of the canal system. On the east side of the state near Akron, water is sold from the Portage Lakes System and the existing watered sections of the Ohio and Erie Canal associated with those lakes. On the west side of the state near the City of St. Marys, water is sold from the Grand Lake St. Marys and the existing watered sections of the Miami and Erie Canal associated with this lake. These water sales are typically handled by a water lease.

---

There were proposals to reorganize the water districts to make administration of ODNR more efficient so that we can better fund our Ohio State Parks.  The current government did none of those things.  Their solution was to put in drilling rigs.

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A few years ago I photographed a number of Ohio River barges from the vantage point of Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, during the season when the center field seating was torn out to make way for construction of the Great American Ballpark.  Barge transportation is very important to the economy of the lower midwest and south, yet few people are aware of just how important this means of transportation is. Most barge traffic is on the lower Mississippi, but the Ohio River is 2nd.  Most traffic on the Ohio River is coal, although there is a lot of chemical, sand, and petroleum business as well.  Both the railroad and barge operators are hoping that hydraulic fracking will bring in demand for some new bulk-shipping of certain commodities to make up for the anticipated loss of some coal traffic if/when some of the older coal fired generating plants shut down. Fracking requires huge bulk shipments of sand and water; also produces a number of by-products that can be shipped out in bulk and sold. 

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I just learned late last week how dire this situation is, yet the only media coverage I could find was this series done a year ago. I learned from Pittsburgh's metro planning organization that the situation is so dire that the only thing holding up the walls of some of these decaying river locks is the water itself! So proposals of sending water from the Ohio River downstream to raise the level of the drought-stricken Mississippi River could not be done. In fact, Shell Chemical, which wants to build the natural gas cracker at Monaca, PA has its fingers crossed. It plans to ship by pipeline and rail once it is open, but needs the river to deliver components for building the cracker plant. It is hoping the Ohio River can stay navigable just long enough so that it can build the plant. After that Shell doesn't care what to the river.

 

(BTW, please note in this article how much government subsidy the water carriers get! Maybe if the feds charged more user fees they could afford to make improvements, but we don't want to raise taxes now do we. We'd rather risk the nation's commerce)......

 

Locked and Dammed: Neglect erodes river commerce

Shutdowns, delays at locks, dams cost consumers

March 20, 2012 12:00 am

By Len Boselovic / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

This is the third of a four-part series.

 

There is a price to be paid for neglecting the nation's aging system of locks and dams, an economic engine in desperate need of a tune-up.

 

On the Monongahela River, the price tag could be as high as $1 billion annually if the breakdown of a lock or dam puts the river off limits to barges delivering coal to power plants, according to a study performed last year for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

About 500 miles down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, 18 months of delays caused by repairs needed at three troubled locks is expected to cost one utility alone $16 million, according to a company spokesman.

 

For farmers in the Midwest, a three-month lock failure would add $71.6 million to the cost of moving grain to markets, according to a Texas Transportation Institute study issued in January.

 

The impact that the failure of a dam like the 105-year-old one on the Monongahela at Elizabeth could have on water supplies is worrisome enough it has drawn the attention of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/environment/locked-and-dammed-neglect-erodes-river-commerce-617136/#ixzz2LH0pSSDf

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^No user fee for lock operation and the public pays half of the existing budget from federal general receipts.  Therefore, I am subsidizing the coal industry:

 

Barge operators pay a 20-cent per gallon tax on diesel fuel they use, which raises about $85 million annually. Taxpayers match that, making about $170 million available each year.

 

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Barges Sit for Hours Behind Locks That May Take Decades to Replace

 

 

The lock here at the Kentucky Dam is a major thruway for products from nearly 20 states. But over the last decade, the average delay here has grown to nearly seven hours, from less than four hours in 2004.

 

[...]

 

Although a new lock is under construction here, it will not be completed until 2023. But the Corps said even that completion date could be pushed back if there were delays in federal funding.

 

“The Corps is doing the best it can to ease the congestion, but every additional hour you have to sit at a lock waiting costs money,” said Dan Mecklenborg, a senior vice president at Ingram, the nation’s largest barge company, which owns the Bill Berry. Ingram, which moves coal and grain south down the Mississippi River and concrete and road salt north to Minnesota and Illinois, accounts for 20 percent of all barge traffic.

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Shell Chemical (a division of Shell Oil) wants to build the gas cracker plant in Beaver County, PA (just west of Monaca, PA -- Moe-naa-Kah). They chose that site because they needed to deliver partially building sections of the plants by river barge. But all their inputs would come by pipeline and the outputs (polyethylene pellets) would go out by train or truck.

 

They are literally holding their breath that the Ohio River locks and dams will hold up just long enough to deliver the partially built plant sections. They and just about everyone upriver in Pittsburgh are aware that the locks/dams are in danger of catastrophic failure at any time.

 

But of course all of these infrastructure disasters and disasters-in-waiting are due entirely to bureaucratic mismanagement and not to America being cheapskates when it comes to raising enough taxes to pay for a high quality of infrastructure and civilization.

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Here's a link to a proposal from 1907 to build a ship canal connecting the Ohio River with Lake Erie.

 

The Lake Erie and Ohio River Ship Canal Company

 

https://archive.org/details/prospectusprelim00lake

 

It's fascinating that in that era, the steel industry was growing every year. They thought that the canal, to be privately financed, would pay itself off in just a few years.

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Here's a link to a proposal from 1907 to build a ship canal connecting the Ohio River with Lake Erie.

 

The Lake Erie and Ohio River Ship Canal Company

 

https://archive.org/details/prospectusprelim00lake

 

It's fascinating that in that era, the steel industry was growing every year. They thought that the canal, to be privately financed, would pay itself off in just a few years.

 

prospectusprelim00lake_0082.jp2&scale=4&rotate=0prospectusprelim00lake_0083.jp2&scale=4&rotate=0

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The railroads succeeded in killing the canal plan as they steel mills were captive shippers that needed vast quantities of coal, coke, iron ore, limestone and other materials. While this was in the days of the Interstate Commerce Commission setting rates, the railroads always pushed for the highest amount when rate cases came up. And the water carriers could inherently charge less since the public sector owned and maintained most waterways (Lake Erie, Ohio River, most ports) and the ships could carry 10 times as much freight as a train with a smaller overall crew (depending on distance of shipment).

 

Landlocked Youngstown was one of the first steel centers (along with Johnstown, PA) to suffer plant shutdowns in the late-1970s. If had access to coal/coke AND iron ore by water, it would have been one of the last to see its economic dependence on steel fade. And it would haves regardless due to greater use of non-ferrous metals plus plastics, foreign competition starting in the 1960s, clean air regulations and technological innovations (continuous casters, electric arc furnaces, recycling of steel, etc) that reduced the need for workers and such large amounts of coal and ore. But consider that mills lasted longer when located on waterways. In Cleveland, Detroit and Gary some mills remain because they can get ore by lake freighter. Or some mills remain in Wheeling, Steubenville, Midland and near Pittsburgh because they can get coal/coke by river barge.

 

But Youngstown would have been able to get all the materials they needed by water. The canal could have turned Youngstown into a steel center larger than Cleveland, Gary or Pittsburgh (the only three steel centers that produced more steel in the USA). Imagine Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh all being roughly the same size today....

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NOACA poised to approve vital grant to plan future of Irishtown Bend (photos)

By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

on June 09, 2016 at 7:54 AM

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The board of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, aka NOACA, is likely to approve an $80,000 grant at its Friday meeting to fund a critically important project to plan trails, a park and new bulkheads on the Irishtown Bend hillside along the Cuyahoga River.

 

The dollar amount may not sound like much. But proponents say the grant is vital. By designing public amenities on the hillside, it could help galvanize community support to spend far more money – perhaps up to $50 million - to stabilize the slope, which lies south of the Detroit-Superior Bridge and east of West 25th Street.

 

Danger on the slope

 

For decades, geologists and engineers have warned that the 31-acre hillside, once the site of a 19th-century Irish immigrant community, could slide into the Cuyahoga River, blocking ore boats from reaching the ArcelorMittal steel plant further south in the industrial Flats.

 

MORE:

http://www.cleveland.com/architecture/index.ssf/2016/06/noaca_likely_to_approve_critic.html

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U.S. Army Corps agrees to dredge Cuyahoga shipping channel, dispose of sediment in shoreline dike

By James F. McCarty, The Plain Dealer

on October 03, 2016 at 10:15 PM, updated October 04, 2016 at 11:50 AM

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late Monday that it would dredge the upper reaches of the Cuyahoga River shipping channel where sediment has been piling up, forcing cargo ships to "light load" during deliveries to the ArcelorMittal steel mill.

 

The Army Corps ended its year-long refusal to dredge on the condition that, if the agency prevails in a federal court lawsuit, Ohio would reimburse the Corps for the additional costs required to dump the sediment into Dike 10, a confined disposal facility on the Lake Erie shoreline near Burke Lakefront Airport.

 

The Army Corps has maintained the sediment is nontoxic and safe enough for open lake disposal. But the Ohio EPA disagreed and blocked that action, maintaining that the sediment is too polluted with PCBs.

 

MORE:

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/10/us_army_corps_of_engineers_agr.html

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Port Authority receives $80,000 grant to fix Irishtown Bend hillside

October 14, 2016 UPDATED 3 DAYS AGO

By JAY MILLER

 

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency has awarded the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority an $80,000 grant so the waterfront agency can move ahead with planning efforts to rescue the collapsing hillside at Irishtown Bend, a curve in the Cuyahoga River just south of Superior Avenue below West 25th Street.

 

The grant was one of three approved Thursday, Oct. 13, by the port authority’s board of directors.

 

The slide of the unstable soil above Irishtown Bend into the Cuyahoga River has been slowed by short-term fixes for several decades. A catastrophic collapse would threaten the livelihood of businesses downriver, including the Arcelor Mittal steel mill.

 

It could take as much as $50 million to stabilize the hillside and better link it to the Ohio City neighborhood above the river.

 

MORE:

http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20161014/NEWS/161019868/port-authority-receives-80000-grant-to-fix-irishtown-bend-hillside

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