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Nashville District Solicits Bids For Final Chickamauga Lock Contract

April 17, 2024   The Waterways Journal

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Photo shows construction progress at Chickamauga Lock as of February 20. (Photo by Luciano Vera/Nashville Engineer District)


Nashville District Solicits Bids For Final Chickamauga Lock Contract


The Nashville Engineer District is soliciting bids from contractors for the final contract in the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project in Chattanooga, Tenn.


The contract includes constructing the new approach wall and decommissioning the old lock chamber. Contractors can submit bids via: (Notice ID W912P524R0001).


“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, Nashville Engineer 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, located at Tennessee River Mile 471 in Hamilton County, Tenn., forms Chickamauga Lake. The lock allows commercial and recreational navigation for 314 miles of the Tennessee River stretching beyond Oak Ridge and Knoxville in Tennessee. 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 that have resulted in “prolonged outages and expensive repairs,” according to the Nashville Engineer District.


Originally constructed in 1940, the lock is 84 years old. Chickamauga Lock averages approximately 1 million tons of cargo per year and is the second-most-used lock in the nation for recreational waterborne transportation, averaging 3,500 vessels per year.

The new lock will measure 110 by 600 feet and allow up to nine barges at a time, compared to one barge at a time at the current lock, which measures 60 by 360 feet. The Corps has estimated the new lock could reduce lockage times by 80 percent.


The replacement project was first authorized in 2003 and received additional funding through the consolidated appropriations act of 2024, allowing 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,” the district said in a news release. “Throughout this contract, the old lock will remain in operation until the new lock is open for public use. No prolonged “outages” are expected.”


Capt. Joseph Cotton, Nashville District project manager, said the district expects to award the contract this fall. Potential contractors received plans and specifications the last week of March and will have opportunities to visit the site, he said.


“This replacement project will increase reliability of the inland navigation system and improve the overall efficiency of industry for many years to come,” Cotton said. “During construction, the safety of our contractors, followed by mitigating impacts to navigation, are our top priorities.”


The Nashville district said it will communicate temporary outages important for placement of construction, including for placement of the 34, 450-ton approach wall beams.


Cotton said there will be overlap between two existing contractors completing their assigned work and the new contractor mobilizing in order to bring the new lock online as early as possible. The lock contract has been awarded to Shimmick Construction Company and is due to be complete in September 2025. The upstream approach wall contract, awarded to C.J. Mahan Construction LLC, is due to be complete in January.