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Posted 4/13/2018

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By Mark Rankin
Nashville Public Affairs


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (April 10, 2018) – Congressmen Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee 3rd District, and Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee 4th District met with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority representatives, toured the existing and new lock project and addressed the media about funding and progress Monday morning April 9,  2018.

“I’m very pleased with the progress the Corps has made and it is going great," said Fleischmann, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.   “Construction is tremendous and is going to be a great project for the people of Tennessee and the people of our nation.”

Adam Walker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District project manager for the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project, and Tommy Long, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District resident engineer, briefed both congressmen, while they watched crews from Heeter Geotechnical Construction remove rock up to 20-feet below the Tennessee River bed.  They plan to remove approximately 100,000 cubic yards of rock to prepare the site for the floor of the new 110-foot-by-600-foot Chickamauga Replacement Lock.

"The Chickamauga Lock is a critical piece of infrastructure that supplies jobs and supports the East Tennessee economy," Fleischmann said.  "Continued funding fully funds this project, and marks another milestone toward the timely completion of the Lock."

The Corps of Engineers has already spent more than $200 million over the past 11 years to design and start building the new Chickamauga Lock. But as work has been delayed by constrained funding over the past decade, the cost of the new lock has increase to $760 million, assuming efficient annual funding and a 2024 project completion date. 

Walker said the congressmen’s visit to the lock went well and feels they are now more educated than before about the project and seemed very impressed with the progress. 

“There’s been a lot of changes since congressman Fleischmann’s last visit,” said Walker.  “Both congressmen know this new lock project could have a huge economic impact on the commerce, business, barge industry and it’s important they continue to see the progress which allows them to keep the public informed,” said Walker. 

DesJarlais said he was impressed with the amount of work that has been completed at Chickamauga Lock.

"The Chickamauga Lock is a vital piece of infrastructure that supplies jobs and supports the East Tennessee economy, DesJarlais said.  “The lock we have now limits the traffic flow through here and this much wider, newer lock will help deal with the bottleneck we are facing, save time and money."

Fleischmann and DesJarlais told the media that the $1.3 trillion spending plan for the rest of the fiscal 2018 budget will more than double funding for work on the new Chickamauga lock this year. The budget plan provides a record $6.8 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

During the tour Jeff Ross, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District civil engineer, reginal technical specialist, Regional River Repair Fleet, explained how workers are installing new gate anchors and other fixes to shore up the upper gates on the existing Chickamauga lock.  The Corps also spent about $3.5 million from its operating budget to make much needed fixes. 

With significant annual maintenance, Chickamauga Lock has frequent and lengthy lock outages as a result of downtime for repairs.  Up to now, Corps maintenance crews have kept the lock open as the concrete continues to expand and hinder operations. 

The Tennessee Valley Authority completed construction of Chickamauga Lock and Dam in 1940.  With a single chamber measuring 60-by-360 feet, the lock has since experienced structural problems resulting from alkali aggregate reaction between the alkali in the cement and the rock aggregate, which results in a physical expansion of concrete structures.  Even with costly advanced maintenance procedures, the concrete expansion threatens the structural integrity of the lock and limits its life span.

Fleischmann, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the Chickamauga lock is the fourth-highest funding priority for inland water projects in the nation, behind only Olmsted on the Ohio River northwest of Paducah, Ky., the Lower Monongahela River in Pennsylvania and the Kentucky Lock on the Tennessee River in Kentucky. Fleischmann said he will continue to advocate for this project until its completion.

"Tennessee's 3rd and 4th Districts are home to countless businesses all of which need reliable, efficient means to transport their goods and raw materials economically," said Fleischmann. "I am hopeful that once this project is completed, it will not only be great for current business but will also create even more incentive for economic opportunity and future business."

(For more news, updates and information please follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)

Adam Walker Chickamauga Chickamauga Dam Chickamauga Lock Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project Chuck Fleischmann congressman Congressman Chuck Fleischmann Congressman DesJarlais Congressman Fleischman construction Corps of Engineers Fleischmann House Committee House Subcommittee on Energy and Water inspection Jeff Ross maintenance Mark Rankin Nashville District navigation Repairs on Appropriations Scott DesJarlais Tennessee Tennessee 3rd District Tennessee 4rd District Tennessee River Tennessee Tommy Long TVA U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE valley authority