By Mark Rankin
Nashville District Public Affairs
GRAND RIVERS, Ky., Tenn. (Oct. 14, 2016) –The Kentucky lieutenant governor and 12 board members from the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority visited the Kentucky Lock Addition Project at Kentucky Lake and toured the Barkley Dam, Power Plant on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in Grand Rivers, Ky. Oct. 13., to get a close overview of the construction.
Maj. Christopher W. Burkhart, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, Nashville District deputy district engineer and Don Getty, project manager, for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project welcomed Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton and the board attendees.
Hampton and board members walked along the brand-new concrete lock walls, trekked across, down scaffolds and through shallow pools of dirt to the depths of the partially constructed lock. The lock addition is one of the district’s largest and most important projects. The project includes design and construction of a new 110 x 1200 lock It will be located landward of the existing 110 x 600 lock which will accommodate modern barge tows without having to break the tows.
Corps of Engineers officials led the group on a tour of the construction and provided Hampton with an overview of the district’s missions, which include flood risk management, navigation, hydropower, emergency management, and recreation.
“She was very interested in the project and asked some great questions,” said Getty,
He briefed the group about how the Corps operates locks, dams and reservoirs within the Cumberland River Basin as a system, and specifically about water management operations at the Kentucky Dam and Barkley Dam.
“This project is fascinating and I can’t wait to see when it’s all done in a few years,” said Hampton. “With an engineering background, I’m always curious about project like the Kentucky Lock project and it will help Kentucky leverage our central location and bring more companies here.”
Getty led Hampton and the group across Kentucky Lock to the new partially constructed addition and provided her details on the construction of the new lock.
“Most of the products that go through here effect our everyday life,” said Getty. “Items such as coal, building materials, agricultural products, fuel, and products that make us more competitive globally.”
Hampton walked across the lock gate, stopped to observe a tow boat, and was curious of how much time it takes for a barge to lock through. She met several employees at the lock and asked them questions about their work experiences.
The group also toured the Barkley Power Plant. Mike Looney, Barkley’s resource manager brief the group and Jamie Holt, Barkley Power Plant superintendent, provided an overview of operations and led a tour of the structure and generators. Once complete, Hampton said it’s clear to her that the Corps plays an important role in this region of Kentucky.
“This tour has been great and I have a better understanding of these enormous structures, the importance of the project, how it will eliminate delays and result in a much more efficient river transportation system, key roles people play in completing the project, and most importantly keeping commerce coming through these locks,” said Hampton.
The Corps is constructing a new navigation lock at Kentucky Dam to reduce the significant bottleneck that the 600-foot-long current lock causes on this important waterway. Because of high Tennessee River traffic levels and the current lock’s size, the average delay times for commercial tows going through Kentucky Lock average from seven to over nine hours – near the highest in the country.
The new lock will eliminate these delays and result in a much more efficient river transportation system,” said Getty.
The total cost for the Kentucky Lock project is $862 million with about $392 million expended to date, or about 45 percent complete. If efficient future funding levels are provided, the earliest expected completion date is 2023.
“We are happy that she (Hampton) and the group came for the visit today,” said Getty. “She was very engaged, interested and asked fantastic questions.”
Nashville District’s responsibilities in the Cumberland-Tennessee River Basins, which touch seven states and cover 59,000 square miles, include operating and maintaining 1,175 commercially navigable river miles with 14 navigation lock projects plus nine hydropower plants capable of producing more than 914 megawatts of clean electricity.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorpsand on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)