Two lift gates to be replaced at Montgomery Locks and Dam for $5.6 million

Beaver County Times

Aug. 09–INDUSTRY — It will cost $5.6 million to replace two dam lift gates at the Montgomery Locks and Dam on the Ohio River, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the project will help ensure the long-term structural integrity of the aging infrastructure.

There are 10 dam gates at the facility, which handles more than 300 commercial barges and boats per month.

According to a 2006 study that measured the structural integrity of the dam, all 10 of the gates were in an “active state of failure under normal hydraulic load,” according to the Corps of Engineers.

Since then, the federal agency has replaced four of the 10 gates, and a fifth gate is currently under construction. Under the new contract awarded Wednesday, two more gates will be replaced this fall, a process that won’t be finished until 2019.

The $5.6 million contract, awarded to C.J. Mahan Construction Co. of Grove City, Ohio, includes the replacement of the two dam lift gates, as well as pier and machinery improvements.

“The contract is necessary to avoid near-term catastrophic gate failure, which could result in a potential loss of navigation and impact to utility and commercial water intakes on the upper Ohio River,” project manager David Heidish said Wednesday.

The Army Corps had previously performed temporary repairs and maintenance at Montgomery, according to officials, but little had been done in terms of a permanent solution.

“This contract will go a long way to providing that solution,” Heidish said.

The Montgomery facility was built in 1934 and was originally designed to meet outdated safety standards. According to Army Corps officials, the locks and dam were not designed for barge impacts of heavy ice loads.

The study in 2006 uncovered “significant deterioration problems” with the vertical lift gates, which has spurred the replacement of those gates. In addition, a tow barge in 2006 struck a guide wall at the facility, furthering the imminent need for repairs.

Army Corps officials previously said the probability of the Montgomery facility experiencing a catastrophic failure will rise to 50 percent by 2028. If a failure happens and river traffic is halted, it could cost the region $430 million annually in lost commerce.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.