GRAND RIVERS, Ky. (Jan. 28, 2015) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District placed concrete to top-out the first massive concrete monolith for the Kentucky Lock Addition project this past week. This milestone is a significant step towards completion of the new 1,200-foot-long navigation lock at Kentucky Dam.
“This is a monumental accomplishment that is a testimony to the exceptional work of the Kentucky Lock team,” said Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander. “The Corps, along with our partners the Tennessee Valley Authority and our contractor, Thalle Construction Company, have been working very well together to overcome the many challenges that face a project of this magnitude to make this day possible. Placing concrete in the recent cold weather is an example of one of these challenges.”
The monolith that was completed this past week is the first of 61 monoliths that will comprise the two walls of the new lock. Under the current construction contract, Thalle will construct the first nine monoliths. They are approximately 80 percent complete with a completion time scheduled for the spring of 2016. Under Thalle’s contract they will place about 130,000 cubic yards of concrete. Another 850,000 cubic yards of concrete placement is required in future contracts to complete the planned lock.
The Corps is constructing a new navigation lock at Kentucky Dam to reduce the significant bottleneck that the 600-foot-long current lock causes on this important waterway. Because of high Tennessee River traffic levels and the current lock’s size, the average delay times for commercial tows going through Kentucky Lock average from seven to over nine hours – near the highest in the country.
“The new lock will eliminate these delays and result in a much more efficient river transportation system,” said Don Getty, project manager.
Getty said that progress on Kentucky Lock project has been slowed since construction began in 1998 because 50 percent of Kentucky Lock’s funds are from a special federal fund, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund – and insufficient funds in the IWTF have been the main bottleneck in funding to date.
Two watershed events transpired in the last year that should significantly reduce or eliminate this financial bottleneck. In June 2014 the Water Resources Reform and Development Act was enacted, which permanently reduced the Olmsted Lock and Dam project IWTF cost share from 50 to 15 percent. And last month an Act was signed by the president that increased the marine diesel fuel fee that funds the IWTF from 20 cents per gallon to 29 cents per gallon – an increase that was widely supported by those that pay it – the marine industry. Because of these two watershed events, the financial future for the Kentucky Lock project is very bright, Getty said.
The total cost for the Kentucky Lock project is $862 million with about $392 million expended to date, or about 45 percent complete. If efficient future funding levels are provided, the earliest expected completion date is 2023. The next construction contract for the project is the Downstream Cofferdam, which could potentially be awarded as early as this summer.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)