US Army Corps of Engineers
Louisville District Website

Strides made for work at Dam 52; Corps poised to resume navigation

Published Sept. 13, 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District is expected to resume locking at Locks and Dam 52 by Thursday evening Sept. 14.

Locks and Dams 52 is a low lift wicket dam built in 1928 consisting of 487 timber wicket gates adjacent to one another stretching the width of the river at mile marker 938.9. During periods of high water navigation traffic transits over the lowered wicket gates, but during low water, the gates must be raised individually to impound water creating a navigable depth from Locks and Dam 52 to Smithland Locks and Dam, Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Last Thursday, Ohio River velocities stopped the Corps from raising enough dam wickets to hold pool, but a drop in overnight flows reduced velocities Wednesday morning, Sept. 13, which allowed the Corps to resume dam raising operations.

“With the wickets we were able to raise this morning, we now have the dam in a workable configuration,” said Waylon Humphrey, deputy chief of operations with the Louisville District.

As a result of the completed work, the river elevation is now rising at one half foot per hour and is expected to return to normal summer pool elevations by this weekend, providing much needed relief to stakeholders like the navigation industry and companies along the river which rely on barge traffic for commodity delivery.

“This is something we could not have predicted,” said Louisville District Commander Col. Antoinette Gant referring to the Corps ability to take advantage of the unexpected drop in river velocities. “We take this as a positive and know there is still work to be done.”

Work will continue toward replacing missing wickets at Dam 52 and a rock dike built to protect working divers--an operation which is not expected to affect navigation traffic.

The Olmsted locks and dam are to be complete in 2018 which will replace Locks and Dam 52 and 53. This will help reduce river closures once Olmsted Locks and Dam is in operation. Since the project reauthorization and funding, the Olmsted Locks and Dam project is ahead of schedule and under budget.


Todd Hornback

Release no. 17-012

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