GRAND RIVERS, Ky. (Nov. 24, 2015) –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District re-opened the Barkley Lock today after dewatering the lock for major repair and maintenance.
Charlie Thomason, civil engineer in the Nashville District Structural Section, said it took nearly a month for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District employees to dewater and complete repairs on the 51-year-old lock. A formal inspection of components that can only be seen while the lock is dewatered was also conducted in conjunction with the maintenance job.
“Inspections provide good information for mechanics,” said Thomason. “When we do these types of inspections and repairs, it requires us to go down in the recesses and watch them operate, and make sure everything is functioning as it is designed.”
Barkley Lock was closed to make a major repair to one of the lower miter gates. In conjunction with this activity, the lock chamber was pumped out and critical maintenance including weld repairs to the miter gates and replacing bushings in valve machinery was performed. Maintenance workers s also installed new valve guides on all four valves
Carl Scott, lock and dam equipment mechanic supervisor at the district’s Tennessee River Operations Center, said engineers closely inspected the upper land and lower land valves, land wall culver valves, lower lock miter gates and all other areas of the lower lock chamber that are normally underwater.
“Mechanics safely installed and replaced new valve guides that have a special ultra-high molecular weight poly-ethylene finish,” said Scott. “This process allows the valve gates to stay in place during high turbulence operation and keeps them from vibrating. We also welded new guide supports that locks the adjustment position for the giant valves.”
A job of this magnitude takes months of preparation and planning. Cody Corlew, a maintenance engineer at the Western Kentucky Area Office, along with Joe Adawag, civil engineering technician in the Navigation Branch, worked closely with Greg Cox, supervisor in the Maintenance Section, to ensure the job went as smoothly as possible. Tailwater conditions had to be closely monitored and coordinated with Water Management and the Barkley powerhouse to ensure that the lower closure structure could be safely placed before any maintenance work could begin.
Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, Nashville District commander, presented Corps employees from the Tennessee River Operations Center, Cumberland River Operations Center and Fleet repair crews a Safety and Health Award for their safe execution of the 2015 major maintenance projects throughout the district. The maintenance team members were recognized for maintaining a high standard of safety at Wheeler Lock, Wilson Lock, and Old Hickory Lock maintenance projects during the Fiscal Year 2015 work season, all without a loss-time incident.
“A perfect safety record is a significant accomplishment. At these job sites we had work crews performing their tasks around the clock, which involved inspecting and repairing the gates and various components," Murphy said. "There were 1,692 hours worked at the three dewaterings. Each lock had two shifts, and our employees worked those hours without so much as a smashed finger. The workers who achieved this safety record are the backbone of the district and are deserving of this great recognition."
According to Kyle Tanner, Nashville District Safety Office chief, by integrating risk management principles, additional Safety and Occupation the Health Office staff oversight and proactive development of site specific safety plans, the team's efforts resulted in zero reportable incidents and injuries at Nashville District's major maintenance activities.
Murphy also recognized the Western Kentucky Area Lock staff at the neighboring Kentucky Lock for maintaining a safe program and accomplishing 11 years without a lost time or recordable injury.
The district also recognized Ron Hunt, lock operator at the Lake Barkley Lock, for a perfect safety record during his 31-years of service to the Corps of Engineers.
Thomason said inspecting the steel gates and making welding repairs are routine for engineers. However, the gates are huge steel structures that deteriorate from extended exposure to water, elements and it takes time to make assessments and repairs to ensure they continue to operate properly for years to come.
The Lake Barkley Navigational Lock is a key alternative gateway passage between the Cumberland and Ohio Rivers for barges towing commercial goods to southern and northern destinations.
Navigation traffic passes through Barkley Lock 20 hours a day, 365 days a year. The lock is closed between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m. daily.
Don Johnson, lock and dam maintenance mechanic, said it is critical that safety is practiced and general inspections and maintenance fixes are performed routinely to allow teams to fix any cracks in the gates, weld, paint or repair gates, and inspect areas in the culverts where water enters the lock chamber.
“Safety and maintenance are both critical to the life of the locks,” said Johnson. “If we are not safe, we can’t do any of our jobs that allow us to operate the locks and provide lockage for barges.”
According to Scott, it takes patience and is a timely process for engineers and mechanics to comb over the entire lock when it is dewatered.
“It takes patience through a team effort,” said Scott. “Our maintenance mechanics have worked hard to get the lock back up and running. The tow boat operators will look forward to us having this lock back in operation.”
The lock is located at river mile 30.6 from where the Cumberland River joins the Ohio River at Smithland, Ky. The lock chamber is 800-feet long and 110-feet wide. The lock releases 37.5 million gallons of water each time it is emptied
Call the Lake Barkley lock office at 270- 362-9131 or the Nashville District Navigation Branch at 615-736-5607 for more information about navigating Barkley Lock.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)