McAlpine’s north chamber reopens to navigation traffic

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published Dec. 15, 2020

The 1,200 foot-north chamber at McAlpine Locks and Dam on the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, officially reopened to navigation traffic, Dec. 11.

The north chamber closed in mid-June as part of the $30 million miter gate replacement project, which also included scheduled maintenance and repairs. Nearly 100 fleet employees and laborers from across the region were onsite each day to ensure the project was completed on time.

“I cannot express how awesome and humbling it is to work with such a team of dedicated professionals,” said Tim Fudge, Louisville District Operations Division chief. “The standard that has been set by the Regional Rivers Repair Fleet, McAlpine personnel and our Maintenance Section folks is one for others to chase and a huge success story for not just those involved locally, but also for the region.” 

The temporary six-month closure allowed the Regional Rivers Repair Fleet’s heavy capacity fleet to replace the miter gates and related equipment on each end of the north chamber to increase reliability and efficiency on the inland waterways system. In addition, the floating mooring bitt tracks were also replaced to increase safety for vessel traffic.

According to Fudge, major maintenance projects such as this are critical to ensure reliability and efficiency on the inland waterways system, which fuels America’s economy. The aging gates were a growing concern, and with more than 54 million tons of commodities moving through McAlpine Locks and Dam annually, a failure would have profound impacts.

“My sincere thanks to every single person who stepped foot on this project, endured the challenges that arose and overcame them as a unified team,” Fudge said. “This was not an easy undertaking, and that is why it took the best team in the USACE to get it done.”