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Ceremony Marks Opening of Olmsted Dam

September 5, 2018

The Olmsted Locks and Dam project is the largest civil works project in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Working with the U.S. Army Corps since 2010, Global Diving & Salvage has safely and successfully supported all dive related services for in-water construction; completing more than 15,000 dives in the course of the project.

The Army Corps of Engineers hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site in Olmsted, Illinois on August 30, 2018 to mark the long-awaited opening. Representatives from Global, the Washington Group, Alberici, American Commercial Barge Line, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were on hand to celebrate the event. Keynote remarks were made by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, among others.

“Now we look behind me at this structure, and measure what it means in terms of the future of the economy of this region, as well as the future of the economy of the United States,” said Senator Richard Durban. “The Olmsted Lock and Dam lies on the busiest stretch of river in the nation. We know that in this busy stretch of river, day in and day out the equivalent of 25,000 city trucks worth of cargo pass through this area. Each year nearly 100 million tons of freight: corn, soy beans, coal, other resources will pass through these locks.”

The Olmsted Locks and Dam was designed to replace two outdated lock and dam systems on the Ohio River, greatly reducing tow and barge delays through one of the busiest U.S. inland waterways – about 6,500 vessels move 90 million tons of cargo through this area every year. Olmsted will replace nearby Lock and Dam 52 and 53, which were built in the 1920s and are too small to handle the demands of modern-day barge traffic. The new structure will include two 1,200-foot locks and a 2,500-foot dam.

“This is one of the nation’s most expensive civil works project in our history, but I think that we will understand quickly that the money was well spent,” Senator Durbin when on to say. “It is estimated that this project will pay for itself in just five years. It is an amazing tribute to the men and women of the Army Corps of Engineers and those who went to work on this project that they have the ingenuity and determination.”

Working through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Louisville District, Alberici/ Washington Group JV, AECOM was awarded the contract to build Olmsted Dam. Acting as a subcontractor to AECOM, Global has provided all dive-related services for in-water construction.

“From the beginning, we knew that safety, innovation, planning, communication and our people would be critical for this project,” said Kevin McLaughlin, AECOM project director. “As a contractor, seldom do you have the opportunity to work on a once-in-a-generation and, for some, a once-in-a-lifetime project like this, where the challenges were met by a united workforce.”

(Click thumbnails to view full size photos)

Olmsted Dam is being built “in the wet”, an innovative method of construction. Large sections of the concrete structure are first fabricated on shore, then moved into the river where they are positioned and set into place. The large precast sections are positioned onto new piling and secured with cast-in-place concrete and anchors. Global provided all underwater inspection, piling tolerance QC, positioning of precast segments, placement of underwater concrete, underwater burning/welding, and ship husbandry. Divers work in a river environment, in depths ranging from 10 to 70 feet and in currents up to 4 fps.

“This has been a project for the record-books,” said John Graham, Director at Global. “With more dives than ever completed on a single project before, and the innovative ‘in the wet’ process that will forever change how future projects are approached by the U.S. Army Corps, Global is proud to have been part of this historic undertaking. It has only furthered our commitment to safety in carrying out all of our operations; from a simple tug survey to a long-term project such as this.”

Related articles:

The Paducah Sun – Officials applaud completion of $3 billion Olmsted project


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