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Illinois Waterway Expected To Reopen October 1

September 22, 2023   The Waterways Journal

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Three dewatered locks on the Illinois Waterway should all reopen on time October 1, but one may experience intermittent delays afterward.

During a 120-day closure, which began June 1, the Corps is replacing the miter gates and related machinery at the Brandon Road and Dresden Island locks. At Marseilles Lock, conduits have been installed beneath the lock chamber that are necessary for relocating electrical equipment to the land-side of the lock in the future.

“We’re still opening the locks on time,” said Adam Ziegler, project manager for the closure for the Rock Island Engineer District.

However, he said, the Dresden Island Lock could experience some intermittent delays after October 1 as contractors work through final testing and operation of the newly installed machinery. Some components needed to complete the work required longer lead times to obtain, Ziegler said. He indicated it might be another week before he knew if post-closure intermittent delays were going to be required.

Work at Brandon Road and Marseilles remains on time for completion, he said, and crews were able to complete the scope of work as planned.

“These long-duration consolidated closures are done for the foreseeable future,” Ziegler said.

Several locks along the waterway were last closed in 2020 for the beginning of the multi-phase repair project. Follow-up work is not scheduled to take place until after 2025 at the earliest and will be of a shorter duration.

While the project schedule had originally called for replacement of miter gate machinery at Marseilles and Starved Rock locks as well as the other work, that work was taken off the schedule earlier this year. The Corps was unable to complete the work due to increased funding requirements, Ziegler said.

New miter gate machinery is being manufactured, but it will be placed in storage until installation can take place. That installation will take weeks, not months, Tom Heinold, chief of operations for the Rock Island District, said earlier this year.

“After the work this summer, our intent is to go for another generation and not have an extended closure,” he said at the time.

Alberici Constructors Inc. is the lead contractor for the work at Dresden Island Lock. J.F. Brennan Company Inc. is performing the work at Brandon Road Lock. Rock Island Engineer District crews are completing the electrical conduit work at Marseilles Lock.

Ziegler praised the diligent work of the Corps, contractors and industry partners in scheduling and completing the closure, while also acknowledging eagerness for the locks to go back into service serving the country, especially as the bulk of harvest transportation takes place in October in Illinois.

“It’s good to be coming up to the end of it all,” he said.

Ziegler also expressed his thanks to all of those who have worked together to complete the consolidated project within the 120-day timeframe, noting their spirit of cooperation and their professionalism.

Caption for photo: Bulkhead placement at Dresden Island Lock. The Dresden Island, Brandon Road and Marseilles locks on the Illinois Waterway have been closed since June 1 but are expected to open on schedule by October 1. (Photo by Nathan Tillberg/Rock Island Engineer District.)