National Park Service To Begin $12.7 Million Project On Historic C&O Canal

Locks and Walls Project Potential Detour Maps/NPS, Engineering Services Team, C&O Canal NHP

The National Park Service will carry out a large-scale $12.7 million preservation and rehabilitation project on the historic C&O Canal in Georgetown, District of Columbia, to protect key parts of the country’s early transportation history and reduce the risk of flooding during storms and high-water events.

The project is expected to start mid-March and is anticipated to continue through winter 2026, weather dependent. Construction activities will likely require intermittent towpath detours in Georgetown.

The NPS-funded project will focus on historic canal features including Inlet Lock 1, which diverts water from the Potomac River to the five-mile-section of the canal in Georgetown; Locks 1, 2 and 5; and the canal walls at Level 4. The project will:  

  • Stabilize canal structures including the historic stone walls in Georgetown. 
  • Increase the resilience of the historic locks and towpath against flooding and other climate associated hazards. 
  • Repair water structures, from the lift locks to the feeder channel, to regain watertightness.  

This project continues the NPS’s work to preserve the canal and provide authentic, active places for people to enjoy now and in the future. Each of the canal structures being repaired — from the feeder channel to the various locks — have a critical role in water operations. This rehabilitation makes it possible to maintain the watered canal and towpath visitors use to explore this part of the park.

Visitors will see preparations starting on March 5. During construction, portions of the towpath in Georgetown between 34th St. NW and Rock Creek Parkway may be closed with temporary detours through adjacent streets and alleys. Most of the temporary detours are 0.3 miles or less in added distance. Visitors are asked to obey all signs and flaggers and use caution around work areas. The Lock 5 parking lot will be closed during the entire rehabilitation project. Parking and towpath access will remain available at Lock 6, located 0.3 miles from Lock 5.  

Water in the canal will remain lowered throughout this project. Each fall, the Park Service drains the water from the canal to prevent damage to the masonry walls caused by ice and freeze/thaw cycles. Water will be channeled back into the canal when construction is complete and there is no risk of freezing. 

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