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Old Man River Moving Faster

KY-Lock-257x300In 1935, the Tennessee Valley Authority built the Kentucky Lock and Dam. The site is located at the north end of the beautiful and historic Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, just off the Tennessee River in Grand Rivers, KY. Today, it’s operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers‘ Nashville District and handles 50 million tons of barged cargo every year. To move more freight up and down the river, an initiative to build an Upstream Lock Monolith Addition was launched in 2009.

Building & Earth is providing construction quality control services on the new 110 ft x 1200 ft lock, which will increase capacity to handle larger barges and heavier traffic. The project required the excavation of 500,000 cubic yards of overburden, pre-splitting almost 40,000 square feet of rock, excavation of 100,000 yards of rock, and placement of 130,000 cubic yards of concrete, all with very tight tolerances. All QC testing was conducted with onsite USACE validated laboratory facilities.

lock2-300x192The new lock is adjacent to the existing lock channel which remained active during the construction process, increasing the difficulty of the construction. A series of challenges had to be overcome. The site is situated in a cavitated limestone geologic setting, and the project required pressure grouting of voids and cavities in the rocks before concrete placement could even begin.We worked in cold weather, with the wind from the body of water making conditions even worse. The extremely deep excavation required us to be innovative to transport equipment and samples from the base of the excavation to our laboratory facilities.

In the end, the Upstream Lock Monolith addition will allow for larger barge access and faster passage, reducing wait time for vessels. Building & Earth was proud to be involved with the construction of this $734.5 million project.