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Maryland governor's capital budget allocates $100,000 for lock, lockhouse renovations

The National Park Service is expected to match the amount

April 03, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley’s capital budget bill that cleared the Senate on Wednesday sets aside $100,000 for renovations and repairs to Lock 44, Lockhouse 44 and the Western Maryland Railroad Lift Bridge in Williamsport as part of improvements to Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

A bond bill request by state Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, asked for $175,000 for the renovations, but the request was only partially funded.

The National Park Service is expected to match the amount.

“We have the match available and sequestration will not affect the matching grant,” said John Noel, a spokesman for the C&O Canal.

“It’s a done deal,” Edwards said about the money allocated to the lockhouse. “Hopefully, the feds will have a little more than what they have said and they can make up the difference.”

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The House has approved a different version of the capital budget. The two versions will be aligned in a conference committee. The House and Senate would then approve a final version.

Edwards’ request during the current session of the Maryland General Assembly was the second time he had asked for money for the C&O Canal in Williamsport.

In 2012, Edwards introduced a bond bill asking for $320,000 for renovations.

That request also was partially funded, with the Maryland General Assembly allocating $175,000 last year for the renovations.

The money from the bond bill would allow C&O Canal National Historical Park to complete repairs to Lock 44, “including the water supply to make the lock functional for our canal launch boat program” Kevin Brandt, superintendent of C&O National Historical Park, said in a previous Herald-Mail story.

The repairs are part of an effort to restore historic canal features and make Williamsport a more attractive tourist destination for the 4.7 million parkwide visitors to the C&O Canal each year, Brandt previously has said.

Brandt testified in favor of the bond bill during a hearing in March, as well as Thomas B. Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, who felt that the project will help the economies of Williamsport and Washington County.

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