Benched C&O Canal Barge Reveals More Problems

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park faces more problems besides its decommissioned mule-pulled barge, The Georgetown, up and dry on timbers in the canal between 31st and Thomas Jefferson Streets. There will be a smaller motorize boat for the canal, but it is not seen as a long-term solution.

According to Charles Pekow, writing in the Washington Examiner, “the already cash-strapped budget for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park may face a sequestration of nine or 10 percent next January. To avoid that, Congress will have to come to a budget resolution. If not, the backlog for upkeep and maintenance of the historic structures along the 184.5-mile linear park between Georgetown, D.C., and Cumberland, Md., would only worsen and the already barebone number of interpretive programs would shrink even further. So warned Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt, at the annual meeting of the C&O Canal Association in Williamsport, Md.”

“The barge in Georgetown no longer gives rides,” Pekow wrote. “The National Park Service (NPS) is trying to figure out what to do with the boat, including possibly moving it to Williamsport. The list of structural problems in the historic park continues to mount and the cash-strapped park service can only do so much. For instance, structural damage was recently found on the Arizona Avenue Bridge because a truck hit it. It would cost $400,000 to patch it together and $1 million to repair it completely, Brandt said. But neither NPS nor the District Department of Transportation contains the money in budget at the moment. The only vehicles allowed to use the bridge are emergency, law enforcement and NPS maintenance vehicles. It’s mainly used by trail users.”

Pekow, who is a member of the C&O Canal Association, also reported that the gate at locks 4 (near Thomas Jefferson Street) and others along the canal need to be replaced.


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