Crews Working to Complete Major Locks, Dam Repairs
Washington PA Observer Reporter
31 July 2012
CHARLEROI – Facing a tight deadline, crews have been working at
breakneck speed to complete major repairs to a drained lock along
the Monongahela River in order to reopen navigation at Charleroi.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workers Monday completed the final
pours of concrete to remove the old wooden sill below the upriver
gates to the chamber at Locks and Dam No. 4, said Shawn Soltis, a
corps field engineer assigned to the project.
“They’re trying to do a month’s work in 19 days,” Soltis said
Monday. “They’re working around the clock trying to keep the
navigation industry happy.” Industries that ship products through
this lock were warned in March to prepare for the July 23 closure
of the lock for maintenance, he said. “They’re anxious,” Soltis
said, adding that the lock work had been scheduled to coincide
with a coal miner holiday.
More than 1 million tons of coal, gravel, sand and fly ash pass
through these lock gates a month, said Alan Nogy, acting lock
master in Charleroi. His crews open and close the lock gates
nearly 600 times a month to either raise or lower boats and their
hauls past the dam. Nearly 85 percent of the cargo is coal en
route to power plants or on to the port of New Orleans, Nogy said.
Repair workers needed to build a temporary dam at the downriver
gates in order to drain the chamber. They also needed to install a
row of pipe supports to brace the lock walls in place.
Normally there are two lock chambers here, but the other has been
closed as part of another project designed to replace both locks
over the next decade.
The lock under repair is 56 feet wide, 720 feet long and 35 feet
deep, Nogy said.
Once drained, he said, the corps found “typical junk, nothing
dramatic” on the chamber bottom, mostly tires and trees.
The exact time of the reopening has yet to be determined, Nogy
The corps noticed “more than ordinary traffic” during the month
that preceded the closure as the navigation industry prepared for
shipping to come to a halt, Soltis said.
Once the concrete is set, it will take the repair crew four days
to return the lock to normal, Nogy said.
“The amount of work these guys have done is phenomenal,” he said.
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