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Nashville District seeks bids for final Chickamauga Lock replacement contract

April 19, 2024   MarineLog

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The Nashville Engineer District constructs a new navigation lock February 20, 2024. The dam is a Tennessee Valley Authority project. The Nashville District is managing the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project.

The Nashville Engineer District constructs a new navigation lock February 20, 2024. The dam is a Tennessee Valley Authority project. The Nashville District is managing the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project. (Credit: Luciano Vera)


The Nashville Engineer District is soliciting bids from contractors for the Approach Wall and Decommissioning Contract as part of the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project in Chattanooga, Tenn.


“This lock, as part of the nation’s inland waterway system, is critical for providing safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation for the movement of commercial goods, for national security needs and for recreation,” said Lt. Col. Robert Green, USACE Nashville District commander. “There is a need to re-invest in our aging inland navigation infrastructure and we are thankful to our elected officials and partners for the strong push to fund this final milestone.”

Chickamauga Dam is located on the Tennessee River in Hamilton County, Tenn. The dam forms Chickamauga Lake and the lock provides access for commercial and recreational navigation to an additional 314 miles of Tennessee River extending beyond Oak Ridge and Knoxville Tennessee. While owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for maintaining a navigation channel on the river and operates all nine locks on the Tennessee River and one on the Clinch River through a partnership with TVA.


Replacement of the lock is needed because of alkali aggregate reaction, commonly known as growing concrete, found throughout the Chickamauga Dam. This has caused maintenance issues in the existing lock resulting in prolonged outages and expensive repairs. The lock originally constructed in 1940, the lock is 84 years old.


The new lock will measure 110 by 600. feet and allow up to nine barges to lock through at a time, compared to the one barge the current lock can pass. The replacement project was first authorized in 2003 and has received additional funding through the consolidated appropriations act of 2024 that allows this final contract to be solicited. The scope of work includes bringing the new lock to full operation, removal of the cofferdam, decommissioning the existing lock, and site restoration around the Chickamauga Dam. Throughout this contract, the old lock will remain in operation until the new lock is open for public use, no prolonged “outages” are expected.

“We expect to award this final contract in the fall of this year. Potential contractors have received the plans and specifications last week and will be on site to gain a better understanding of the scope of work,” said Capt. Joseph Cotton, USACE Nashville District project manager. “This replacement project will increase reliability of the inland navigation system and improve the overall efficiency of industry for many years to come. During construction, safety of our contractors followed by mitigating impacts to navigation are our top priorities.”


The Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, and our contractors will keep the public informed on progress and will communicate temporary outages for critical construction efforts such as the placement of the 34, 450-ton approach wall beams. The project will have no impacts to lake levels upstream or downstream of the dam and TVA will operate the Chickamauga Dam under normal conditions for power generation and flood risk management.


Cotton said there will be overlap between the two existing contractors completing their assigned work and the new contractor mobilizing. This approach will lead to the earliest online date for the new lock so it can start delivering the benefits of this project. Specifics on the operational date will be published following award of this contract in late 2024.


Chickamauga lock averages approximately one million tons of cargo per year. It’s the second most used lock in the nation for recreational waterborne transportation, averaging 3,500 vessels per year.


Contractors can submit bids via: (Notice ID W912P524R0001)