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Contractor Plans Blasting For Kentucky Lock Construction

USACE photo by Lee Roberts

A blasting contractor says it plans to conduct an initial test blast as early as March 19 at Kentucky Lock and Dam, with blasting becoming more frequent, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kentucky Lock Addition construction project progresses. 


Erica Wolukis with contractor Kesco, Inc., said blasting shouldn’t impact motorists traveling US 62/641 or Kentucky Dam Road during initial phases of the project. The later stages which will occasionally impact motorists likely won’t begin until 2021. She also said motorists likely won’t even notice when the blasting occurs.


“They’re not going to feel anything from that distance,” she explained. “They may hear something that sounds like thunder but it will be so quick it probably won’t even register with the average person.”


Blasting is only allowed Monday through Saturday during daylight hours and not allowed on Sundays. When blasting may impact road traffic in the future, Wolukis said Kesco will partner with Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and other contractors on site to provide plenty of notice. She said the company will also try to facilitate a blasting schedule that doesn’t impact the highest-traffic commuting hours. 


Wolukis said guards will be placed around the blasting sites to ensure no persons get closer than 500 feet from the blasting zone, and in line with standard blasting protocol, there will be a series of air horns activated in the minutes leading up to each blast. Traffic on the river will not be allowed closer than 1,500 feet from the blasting area. 


Kesco is a blasting contractor with more than 50 years of experience and was contracted by Heeter Geotechnical, LLC to perform precise and controlled blasting to facilitate a second lock construction. All blasting will be adjacent to the existing lock chamber. 


The U.S. Corps of Engineers is overseeing the Kentucky Lock Addition Project which will provide a new 1,200-foot lock to relieve a number of existing issues including some of the longest average delay times of any inland waterway system lock.


The U.S. Corps of Engineers reports products originating from or designated to 20 states pass through the system of Kentucky and Barkley Locks, the lowermost locks on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, respectively, and more than 80 percent of the commercial tows choose Kentucky Lock because it’s reportedly easier to navigate. 


But because most of those tows are greater than 600 feet in length, tows are forced to perform a double-lockage -- moving through the lock twice --  to get through the existing 600-foot Kentucky lock. As a result, Kentucky Lock has some of the longest average delay times of any lock in the inland waterway system, ranging from four to seven hours. 

Rachel’s interest in journalism began early in life, reading newspapers while sitting in the laps of her grandparents. Those interactions ignited a thirst for language and stories, and she recalls getting caught more than once as a young girl hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight and book because she just couldn’t stop reading.
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