Efficient waterways infrastructure key ingredient to cost effective shipping

11/07/2017 03:58 PM

FRANKFORT – Improving the state’s waterways infrastructure was the subject of the final Interim Joint Committee on Transportation on Tuesday.

Colonel Antoinette Gant, of the Louisville U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, pointed out the cost advantages associated with shipping goods on the Ohio River.

“Barges on the Ohio River can move a ton of commodities 550 miles on one gallon of fuel, as compared to 400 miles on railroad, and 150 on truck,” Gant said. “An efficiency which results in reduced fuel emissions.”

Factors which have hampered river transportation of goods are two aging structures on the Ohio River, Locks and Dam No. 52, located on the Ohio River about 1.5 miles downstream of Brookport, Illinois, at mile 939, and Locks and Dam No. 53, located on the Ohio River approximately 11 miles upstream of Cairo, Illinois, which were constructed in 1928 and 1929, and are approaching 40 years past their design life.

In September, Locks and Dam No. 52 were shut down for 14 days so that repairs could be made.

“The existing structures are deteriorated structurally and are overstretched during normal operation conditions,” Gant said. During the recent 14-day closure, an 8 million dollar impact was identified by the ship carriers.”

The old locks and dams are to be replaced by the Olmsted project – in the works since 1988, and at an estimated cost over $3 billion, the biggest and most expensive Corps project ever on the inland rivers system.

“One of the key pieces of the puzzle that allowed us to have such great progress in being actually able to complete this project ahead of schedule is the efficiency of funding to effectively plan and execute our work plan,” Gant said.

The modern and efficient Olmstead Locks and Dam, featuring two new 1,200-foot locks and a 2,500-foot dam across the river at Olmsted, Illinois, are scheduled to be fully operational in October 2018.


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