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Massive LaGrange Lock and Dam project steaming ahead

July 6, 2023   Journal Courier

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LAGRANGE — Initial work is starting on plans for a new multi-million-dollar, 1,200-foot lock chamber to improve efficiency and navigation at LaGrange Lock and Dam.


The project is one of seven planned for the Upper Mississippi River System as part of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program.


LaGrange Lock and Dam is about 80 miles above the confluence of the Illinois River with the Mississippi River at Grafton and about 8 miles below Beardstown. It now has a 600-foot lock, which would remain and be used as an auxiliary lock chamber, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


The new rock-founded lock would be constructed landward of the existing structure and would include support buildings, approach walls and approach channels.


In addition to improving mariner safety, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said, the new lock would be able to accommodate the largest tow configurations on the Upper Mississippi River and would reduce per-locker times from 2½ hours or more to about 45 minutes.


There will be an informational session next week to allow a review of the preliminary design plan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Rock Island District will host the session from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Meredosia-Chambersburg Junior-Senior High School, 830 Main St. An overview will be presented and people can provide comments to the design team.


The current phase includes architecture and engineering services — such as lock design, hydraulic measuring, aerial and site surveys and environmental compliance — and physical modeling. The estimated cost for the phase is $20 million.


The coming fiscal year would include real estate activities, physical model testing and continued design work. It is estimated at $49.3 million.