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Big Slackwater Towpath Reconstruction Begins

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

National Park News

Work is now underway on rebuilding the Big Slackwater historic stone wall and towpath at C&O Canal National Historical Park, a $17.2 million project primarily funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the State of Maryland.

Cianbro Corporation of Baltimore was awarded the contract for the project, which is expected to be complete in about 18 months.

“The Recovery Act provided $12.8 million for the project,” said Superintendent Kevin Brandt, “with another $4.4 million from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Program. The C&O Canal Association provided a donation to fund preliminary design and environmental compliance.”  The entire project is expected to cost $17.2 million.

Big Slackwater is the only break in the 184.5-mile park, which runs from the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland.   

The rallying cry of “No slack on Big Slack” was heard, making reference to those in attendance in gaining and raising the necessary funds to fix Big Slackwater, a 2.7-mile impassable stretch of towpath south of Williamsport, Mayrland.  

Park officials and supporters say mending the gap could bring in thousands of new visitors and millions of dollars in tourism money as well as eliminate a dangerous detour.   


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