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First Phase of Monoliths Topped Out at Kentucky Lock Addition

John Null/WKMS

Work has completed on the first wave of construction on a new navigational lock at Kentucky Dam.

Crews on Wednesday topped out the last of nine massive concrete monoliths that will make up the walls of the new lock. Those nine were part of a $97 million contract awarded in 2010. A remaining 52 monoliths need to be built, but work hasn’t been contracted yet due to sluggish funding.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager Don Getty says he is optimistic about funding this fiscal year, however. He says completion of the Kentucky Lock addition will help make the country’s waterways more efficient.

“It just makes economic sense to finish these projects as soon as we can,” Getty said. “They’re a lot cheaper the faster we build them, so, we don’t want to spend any more time than we have to out there constructing them. We want to get them in operation and start reaping the benefits.”

Getty said the next major phase of construction will be building a downstream coffer dam, or temporary dam. He said that funding could be coming this fiscal year.

“If Congress passes an Appropration Act this year, there is a special fund set up for projects not in the budget, like Kentucky Lock, and there’s $108 million in that fund that Kentucky Lock will be eligible for and we think that it will compete very well and should get significant dollars," Getty said.

The total cost of the project is $870 million, with $408 million spent to date. The project was first authorized in 1996 with an expected completion date of 2007, but the earliest possible completion date currently is 2023.

John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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