Sorry I could not attend the IRCA meeting yesterday but I was glad Paul was available to come down and provide some updates. Paul mentioned that there wasn’t a huge crowd at the meeting, and we got the impression that maybe all were not as informed about the upcoming project at Lockport to replace the upper gates. I know we’ve been briefing this project as and providing a heads up on it for well over a year, but I still want to make sure we do our best to inform and solicit feedback from as many as possible. I do plan to issue the official NTNI later this month but wanted to provide one more opportunity for feedback.
I did receive a few phone calls since the last meeting from industry partners asking us to try and shift the closure window outside of the harvest season and of course to shorten the duration as much as possible. What Paul briefed at the meeting yesterday (see below) accommodates both those requests.
As of right now, the plan is to have a 6-8 week closure at Lockport starting January 13, 2025. (We will likely do the NTNI for the full 8 weeks and amend as needed) Both gates are currently in fabrication and scheduled to be delivered later this summer. The design of the sill/seal repairs are at 60% and we should have the design finalized by April. Once we have a finalized design and can start laying out a schedule, we will have a better handle on the duration of the closure. This is a little more complex than a standard miter gate swap. Since these are vertical lift gates, we have to remove the buildings and gate machinery in order to swap the gates, and the gate slots themselves need some serious work to make sure we can get a decent seal. Additionally, a single closure allows us to shave at least 2 weeks off the total closure days needed to perform the work. Setting bulkheads, dewatering, and setting/removing equipment from the chamber are all time-consuming steps that we can reduce by performing the work in a single closure.
We are sympathetic to the fact that any closure is less than ideal for our industry partners. However, we do need to take any opportunity we have to replace our aging and near failing infrastructure when we can. I’m asking that you please distribute this message to the IRCA membership and ask them to provide any significant concerns or feedback to me regarding this plan. I’d like to have any comments no later than Friday January 26th with our intent being to have the official NTN issued by the end of the month. Further, if the IRCA group would like to schedule a phone conference to discuss the work, I am more than willing to jump on, provide updates, and solicit feedback that way.
Chief, Waterways Project Office
Nav (Inland) & AER Business Line Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
O: (815) 552-3231
C: (815) 510-0361
Waterways Project Office
790 East Old Romeo Road
Lockport, IL 60441