On Nov. 16-17, the Louisville District Leadership Development Program (LDP) Level II class packed their boots and hit the road for the lower Ohio River. The team toured the $3 billion mega-project, Olmsted Locks and Dam, which will replace the aging infrastructure of Locks and Dams 52 and 53 upon its completion in 2018. The commodities that pass through Olmsted—the hub of the nation’s inland waterway transportation system—are comparable to the passenger traffic at Dallas Love Field, Atlanta Hartsfield, Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles International airports combined.
Students got a first-hand look at the engineering marvel and a tour led by Resident Engineer Jeremiah Manning; Capt. Jeremy Nichols, Executive Officer; Carter Bagley, Chief, Contract Management at Olmsted; and fellow class member Steve Smith, who serves as a Construction Representative on site.
“I was generally aware of the project, but seeing things in person was quite the experience,” said LDP member Corey White who was visiting the site for the first time. “Pictures and words don't do it justice; "impressive" doesn't capture the magnitude of everything there,” said White.
Next, participants headed back up the river to see the contrast from the modern project of Olmsted in touring the antiquated Lock and Dam 52 in Brookport, Illinois. The group’s fellow classmate Brad Stout, Assistant Operations Manager, and Lockmaster Luther Helland led tours across the lockwall explaining how the wooden wickets are raised manually with a crochet-like hook and the help of the 1920s steam-powered maneuver boat. Its pedal-operated crane hooks to the rods and lifts the wickets out of the water.
“Seeing the state of the locks and the wickets there, showed me exactly why we need Olmsted in the first place,” said White. “It makes you appreciate the job that guys like Luther and Brad are doing to keep things running as smoothly as possible until Olmsted is up and running.”
The class also got an opportunity to see how the Corps’ Locks and Dams are vital to industry on the river. Participants toured the Ingram Barge Lines Paducah, Kentucky office and saw first-hand what it takes to be a crew member aboard an Ingram Barge.
“I typically work day in and day out in the office with limited interaction or visibility to projects, so I relished the chance to see firsthand the impact the Corps has beyond the walls of the federal building,” said LDP member Anne Mulhall. Not only was the experience of seeing Olmsted and Lock and Dam 52 educational and enlightening, but it also provided me with an entirely new appreciation for my co-workers in the field who work tirelessly, at times in less than optimal conditions, to ensure the Corps is successful and our customers can continue to use the inland waterways.”