Unused Olmsted Locks To Be Rehabbed

The Waterways Journal
January 20, 2014
By John Shoulberg

The twin 1,200-foot locks at the Olmsted Locks and Dam project on the lower Ohio River have stood unused since they were completed in 2004. The other part of the project — the dam — has seen delays and cost overruns that have been documented in these pages many times over the years. It will be years before the dam is finished and the locks are put into service.

But now, after a decade in the water, the unused locks need to be rehabilitated.

According to a presolicitation notice put out by the Corps of Engineers earlier this month, the Corps will solicit bids in February, for a contract to perform a major rehab at the locks. The estimated cost of the rehab is between $5 million and $10 million.

Among the work items to be performed:
•    dewatering the lock chambers;
•    cleaning of miter gates and culvert valves for Corps inspection:
•    extension of two maintenance bulkhead reinforced concrete sills on the floors of the chambers;
•    replacement of air bubbler and grease lines located in the chambers, along with solenoid valves on the bubbler system;
•    repair of culvert valve latching bars:
•    addition of a culvert valve support beam. and
•    new stairs and platforms for access to lock piers.

The contract will also include modifying the miter gate latching devices. with new latching cylinders, changes to hydraulic piping. control wiring and latch pin components.

The proposed contract also calls for replacing the control system for the locks, including terminal control screens, interlocks, PLC equipment, computers and ethernet hubs.

The Corps said that the work will be performed on one chamber at a time, keeping one lock chamber operational at all times. The intent is to complete work on one chamber during low-water season (approximately June through November) in 2015, and the other lock in the low-water season in 2016.

Preparatory work, including design of the new lock control system and fabrication of hydraulic cylinders, will be done in 2014. Neither chamber can be dewatered this year, the Corps said.

The current timetable for the overall construction project calls for the dam to be completed — and the locks come into full use — in 2020. Other phases of the project, including removal of Locks 52 and 53, will continue until 2024.

When originally authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 1988. the overall cost of the project was estimated at $775 million, and it was supposed to be finished in 2006. After years of delays and construction changes, the overall cost is now estimated at $3 billion.