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October 2012
Keast & Hood Co. Team Attends Big Slackwater Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Keast & Hood Co. Principal Matthew Daw, PE, LEED AP, and project manager Jon Tung, PE, attended the October 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Big Slackwater Restoration. Keast & Hood Co. provided structural engineering design for the project.

Restoration of the Big Slackwater area is a culmination of more than 15 years of work to restore the magnificent views and historic route walked by mules and canawlers along the C&O Canal. The project re-establishes continuity of the entire 184 ½ mile towpath, restores the towpath’s original alignment along the Potomac River above Dam No. 4, and eliminates a hazardous detour along narrow country roads.

“We are very proud of the team’s effort in pulling this complex project together,” said Daw. “Our exceptional team was able to conquer a problem that many have tried unsuccessfully to solve in the past.” Keast & Hood Co. staff worked tirelessly with the prime architect, Mills + Schnoering and several unique specialty consultants including Barry Issett, Froehling & Robertson, and Enviroscan.

With little maintenance between 1924 and 1971 when the National Historical Park was created, the Big Slackwater stretch of towpath was particularly vulnerable to flood waters. In 1996, two large floods dealt a devastating blow, completely washing away long stretches of the towpath causing all towpath visitors to endure a five-mile detour. Since then, the enormity of the erosion prevented the repairs to Big Slackwater, making it the only segment of the 184.5-mile canal towpath closed to park visitors.

The Big Slackwater restoration contract was over $19 million and was primarily funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Program, with donations from the C&O Canal Association, Washington County, Town of Williamsport and the Hagerstown and Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information about the event, visit

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