US Army Corps of Engineers
Louisville District Website

Thanksgiving work keeps Olmsted dam construction on schedule

Published Dec. 4, 2013
Still attached to the catamaran barge by the tubular lifting frame, Sill Shell No. 6 is lowered into place beneath the Ohio River Thanksgiving Day. The shell is part of the tainter gate section of the Olmsted Dam under construction between Illinois and Kentucky 17 miles upstream from the Mississippi River. The Olmsted Locks and Dam project will replace locks and dams 52 and 53 and greatly improve commercial navigation along the busiest stretch of water highway in the United States.

Still attached to the catamaran barge by the tubular lifting frame, Sill Shell No. 6 is lowered into place beneath the Ohio River Thanksgiving Day. The shell is part of the tainter gate section of the Olmsted Dam under construction between Illinois and Kentucky 17 miles upstream from the Mississippi River. The Olmsted Locks and Dam project will replace locks and dams 52 and 53 and greatly improve commercial navigation along the busiest stretch of water highway in the United States.

More than 250 engineers and craft workers postponed their Thanksgiving dinners with friends and families so work on the Olmsted Locks and Dam could take advantage of favorable conditions on the Ohio River.

“We take full advantage of every day the river cooperates,” said Mike Braden, chief of the Olmsted Division, Louisville District , U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Everyone on this project understands its importance to the nation and is committed to delivering it on schedule.  You witness it in the actions of our craft workers, superintendents and engineers who set the bar Thanksgiving week succeeding in extremely difficult conditions.  I couldn't be more fortunate than to be a part of this organization and associated with such selfless service."

The tainter-gate portion of the moveable dam being built between Illinois and Kentucky comprises concrete and steel shells cast onshore, transported to their place in the river, lowered below the surface and then filled with concrete. The dam shells can weigh up to 3,700 tons each.

“Working on this holiday allowed us to achieve the last of our scheduled milestones for the year early and turn our focus toward reaching a stretch goal of setting the last two tainter gate shells before the river rises again,” explained Mick Awbrey, deputy chief of the Olmsted Division. 

The $3.1 billion locks and dam project on the lower Ohio River is being built in the busiest stretch of the inland waterways and will provide the nation $640 million dollars of annual benefits when it replaces the deteriorated locks and dams 52 and 53. The Olmsted Locks and Dam are scheduled to be operational in 2020 and the project completed, including the removal of locks and dams 52 and 53, in 2024.