GRAND RIVERS, Ky. (June 4, 2019) – The commander of the U.S. Army Great Lakes and Rivers Division made his final visit to the Nashville District before relinquishing command next month. The general received project updates and took time to recognize employees for excellence in reinforcing a legacy of “Taking Care of People,” an important component of workforce readiness and ultimately mission accomplishment.
Maj. Gen. Mark Toy met with project managers, technical experts, district leaders and contract partners at Barkley Dam and Lock on the Cumberland River and Kentucky Lock on the Tennessee River June 4, which are mere miles apart on either side of the Land between the Lakes. At each location, the general took genuine interest in the projects and the people supporting them.
Lt. Col. Cullen Jones, Nashville District commander, welcomed the general and thanked him for his interest in the district’s operations and construction projects.
At Barkley Lock, the general walked onto the miter gate and put eyes on the downstream approach into the navigation lock where a riverbed bubbler and sound system is being installed as a test project to slow the spread of Asian carp throughout the Mississippi River Basin.
Nashville District Project Manager Jill Kelley explained how the Corps is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife on the $4.2 million, three-year project to test the impacts of sound, light and air bubbles on the movement of Asian carp through the Barkley Lock navigation channel..
“There are large numbers of invasive Asian Carp at Barkley Dam. The lock is the primary entryway into the reservoir, making the site an ideal location for the test,” Kelley said. “With a positive research trial, there is potential to greatly impact the presence of these fish further for the entire Cumberland River watershed.”
Toy continued across Barkley Dam, stopping to ask questions about dam safety and operations, and to learn about the status of crane repairs. He then met with Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, Tennessee Valley Authority and Nashville District water management officials to better understand how they work together to manage water and the regulatory authorities governing the relationship between TVA and the Corps.
TVA operates Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River; the Nashville District operates Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River. Barkley Canal connects the two waterways. When the Ohio River reaches 36 feet in Cairo, and is forecasted to reach 40 feet, the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Water Management System manages releases in coordination with TVA and the Nashville District.
“Kentucky and Barkley (Dams) are really the only two projects that were authorized for protecting those downstream interests on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers,” said Anthony Rodino, Nashville District Water Management Section chief.
Rodino explained that depending on where the rain falls and the area that is being impacted, the Nashville District, TVA and Great Lakes and Ohio River Division communicate and make plans to hold or release water in response to high-water events or drought conditions downstream on the lower Ohio River and Mississippi River.
“So it’s really important for me as the Lakes and River Division commander and the future Mississippi Valley Division commander to understand how this operates as a system,” Toy said.
The general then took a ride on a Corps of Engineers patrol boat on the Cumberland River, through Barkley Canal, and into the Tennessee River to Kentucky Lock. During the voyage he went by a Corps campground, commercial marina, and other commercial interests supporting the local economy.
Don Getty, Kentucky Lock Addition Project manager, Jeremiah Manning, project engineer, and other technical experts then led the general on a tour of the construction site and explained how the Corps and contractor have been working through several delays, due to high water on the Tennessee River, to keep construction moving forward.
Getty said the tailwater below Kentucky Dam is currently too high to install the concrete shells, so the Corps and contractor continue to build and preposition the shells for installation and to perform other work in the dry until the water recedes.
Since August of 2018 the Nashville District has been working to install 10 concrete shells that will be part of the downstream cofferdam and the permanent lock wall for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project. When completed, the downstream coffer dam will make it possible to excavate and then construct the new lock in dry conditions.
“I just want you to know that in the three years I’ve been here as the division commander, what you have done here at Kentucky Lock, and also at Chickamauga Lock, is really a model for how all project should be operated – not only with the partnership that you have with your contracting partners, but also with the community,” Toy said.
The general noted that he doesn’t hear much about the Kentucky Lock Addition Project, which is indicative of a well-run project. Nonetheless, he said he is amazed by the progress that has been made since his first visit to the project in 2016.
“It’s an example of what ‘right’ looks like in the Corps and how you build and deliver the program,” Toy said. “What I really love is the focus actually on ‘Taking Care of People,’ which is really the model that we have in LRD, safety being first and foremost.”
Toy thanked the employees working at Kentucky Lock, and all members of the Nashville District, for their dedication and hard work each and every day. The general encouraged the Nashville District to continue to develop and grow and take care of employees, the next generation of engineers and scientists that are going to build and maintain dams and locks well into the future for the Corps of Engineers and the nation.
“All these engineering wonders don’t happen without great people. So it’s important more than ever to take care of our people. I always tell the chief of engineers, because he’s always stressing delivery and making sure we deliver the program, that really the best way we can deliver the program is by taking care of our people,” Toy said.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Kentucky Lock on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kentuckylock and Lake Barkley at http://www.facebook.com/lakebarkley.)