High river level hampers work at Markland

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By Dave Taylor

Disruptions due to current river and weather conditions will lengthen the duration of repair work to the 1,200-foot lock chamber at the Markland Locks and Dam.

That work got underway last week, according to Carol Laboshosky, media spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District. The dam is located on the Ohio River near Warsaw, 14 miles upstream from Carrollton.

The downstream lock gate on the 1,200-by-110 foot chamber failed during operation on Sept. 27. No injuries were reported after a miter gate on the downriver end of the main lock collapsed. Both gate leaves sustained some structural damages during the lock gate failure.

The gate leaves were removed and transported to the Corps Repair Station’s home base on Shippingport Island in Louisville for repairs. With repairs completed the gate leaves were returned to Markland in mid-January.

The Henry M. Shreve floating gatelifting crane was used last week to reinstall the leaves and to make final adjustments to the anchor arms, Laboshosky said.

“Approximately 30 days of low water are still necessary to complete the final phase of repairs,” Laboshosky said on Monday. “Both gate leaves have been rehung. We need to be able to install the bulkheads and de-water a portion of the chamber to complete the work. River gage readings indicate the water is still too high to set the bulkheads today, however forecasts show the river dropping by Wednesday (Feb. 10).”

“Fluctuations on the lower end of the dam can be extreme,” Tracey Keel, assistant operations manager for locks and dams, said. “The lower pool elevations need to be monitored closely to provide a safe working environment for the crew. Winter is typically high water season on the river.”

The district had anticipated opening the 1,200 foot lock chamber March 1, Louisville District Commander Col. Keith Landry said last month. However, lower pool elevations have exceeded flood out stages, according to Laboshosky, causing delays in the ongoing repair work.

“Our repair plan is aggressive, but fully incorporates all safety requirements, and is dependent on low water river conditions,” Col. Landry said.

Since the lock failure river tows and barges have been using Markland’s smaller auxiliary lock, which is 600 feet long and 110 feet wide. The locks are used to raise and lower chamber water levels to enable boats to navigate between the upper pool water level of 455 feet, and the 420-ft lower pool level.