The team will support navigation, flood risk management, water resources management, sediment management, and military engineering projects.
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) has tasked the joint venture of Taylor Engineering and Woolpert with providing research and development services for its Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL). The $49 million, single-award task order contract will support CHL projects that advance navigation, flood risk management, water resources management, sediment management, and military engineering.
ERDC is the primary scientific research and development organization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and oversees seven research laboratories across the U.S. Located in Vicksburg, CHL is responsible for the discovery, development, and delivery of coastal, estuarine, and hydraulic water resources research in both the Civil Works Program and military domains.
Woolpert Vice President Eric Dillinger said that the JV leadership team has extensive experience managing projects for CHL, ERDC, and USACE. This team includes Woolpert Director of Advisory Services Jeff Lillycrop, a former ERDC technical director with 33 years of experience serving CHL, and Taylor Engineering President Jim Marino, a former USACE officer with over 20 years of USACE experience, including three and a half years leading the military research program at the Coastal Engineering Research Center before it was consolidated into CHL. Marino is the managing partner for the JV.
“The Taylor-Woolpert joint venture represents decades of focused and complementary expertise coming together,” Dillinger said. “This contract will be led by a team intimately familiar with and fully capable of meeting the complex research needs of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory.”
Taylor Engineering Vice President Christopher Bender said this is the first contract executed under Taylor and Woolpert’s new Mentor-Protégé Program agreement, which was approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration last year.
“Taylor and Woolpert are currently working as professional partners on multiple projects across a variety of service lines,” Bender said. “We look forward to this next chapter working alongside Woolpert and providing a truly world-class team of engineers and researchers for ERDC and its missions.”
Global research and infrastructure advisory firms are serving as subconsultants for this contract, which is now underway. Those firms include Applied Research Associates and Moffatt & Nichol, as well as Alden Labs, Desert Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Jackson State University.
Since 1983, Taylor Engineering Inc. has provided leading-edge solutions to challenges in the water environment. The company focuses its attention on water-related engineering, planning, management, and environmental challenges with emphasis on coastal regions for public, private, and government clients. A Federal Small Business and a Jacksonville Business Journal’s 2022 and 2023 Best Places to Work, Taylor Engineering has over 50 employees with three offices. Taylor Engineering’s six service groups, Coastal Engineering, Coastal Planning, Dredging and Navigation, Environmental, Water Resources, and Waterfront Engineering, along with our Coastal and Marine Geosciences Laboratory, deliver leading-edge solutions in the water environment. For more information, visit www.taylorengineering.com.
Woolpert is the premier architecture, engineering, geospatial (AEG), and strategic consulting firm, with a vision to become one of the best companies in the world. We innovate within and across markets to effectively serve public, private, and government clients worldwide. Woolpert is a Global Top 100 Geospatial Company, a Top 100 ENR Global Design firm, has earned seven Great Place to Work certifications, and actively nurtures a culture of growth, inclusion, diversity, and respect. Founded in 1911 in Dayton, Ohio, Woolpert has been America’s fastest-growing AEG firm since 2015. Woolpert has over 2,000 employees and more than 60 offices on five continents. For more information, visit woolpert.com.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District works in partnership with The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s Regional Rivers Repair Fleet, also known as R3F, on major maintenance and repair efforts for the district’s locks and dams on the Ohio and Green River and for the district’s 17 Flood Risk Management Dams across Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
“Louisville District’s partnership with the Regional Rivers Repair Fleet is vital to the reliability, resiliency and efficiency of the district’s navigation and flood risk management infrastructure,” said Shawn Kenney Louisville District Operations Division Technical Support Branch chief. “Our goal is to ensure reliability of our system through proactive maintenance and repairs before deficiencies have operational impacts. With aging and deteriorating infrastructure and resource constraints, there is a trend toward a fix-as-fails maintenance strategy.”
The Louisville District and R3F have been working together for years to improve maintenance processes.
“R3F is the preferred resource provider for performing much of this major maintenance work on our infrastructure because the in-house capabilities provide seasoned expertise with the unique work and flexibility if differing site conditions are found once construction is in-progress,” Kenney said. “The adaptability of R3F provides an enhanced level of risk management that would not be possible if all major maintenance work was contracted out.”
Having the ability to mobilize in-house fleets improves the resiliency to restore infrastructure to service quickly in the event of an emergency, Kenney added.
R3F was formed in 2016 when individual river district repair fleets previously located in Louisville, Huntington, Pittsburgh and Nashville were consolidated. This standardized core work and fleet management, safety risk management, equipment maintenance, training and staffing.
More recently, the Heavy Capacity Fleet of the R3F completed miter gate replacements at McAlpine Locks and Dam in Louisville, Kentucky, and Cannelton Locks and Dam in Cannelton, Indiana, to increase reliability and efficiency on the inland waterways system. The Louisville District and R3F’s initiative consolidated this work from two seasons to one, minimizing the time the lock chamber had to be shut down greatly reducing impacts to industry.
“Completing this dual miter gate change out and floating mooring bitt replacements, in one low water season rather than two, reduced industry impacts by over four months in 2022, and allowed for project cost savings of over $10 million,” said Waylon Humphrey Louisville District Operations Division chief. “Most importantly, now that Louisville and R3F have demonstrated this is possible at McAlpine, and repeatable at Cannelton, we have laid the groundwork for the miter gate replacement program timeline to be cut in half.”
The Louisville District and R3F have been paving the way driving toward greater efficiencies with the fleets, according to Kenney.
“The team is pushing the envelope on efficiency and proving successful through diligent planning, aggressive scheduling practices, and proactive risk management,” Kenney said. “The prime examples of this include projects at McAlpine Lock and Dam in 2020 and Cannelton Locks and Dam in 2022, which set a new standard for completing miter gate replacements on both ends of a lock chamber in a single year.”
These projects successfully reduced the timeframe from two five-month closures over two years to a single five-month closure and reduced the budget from $47 million to $37 million.
“These efficiencies allow USACE to move on to the next critical needs on the long list of backlogged maintenance,” Kenney said. “Also, the reduced closure times benefits navigation industry and its customers to the tune of millions of dollars.
The R3F team is currently working with the Louisville District at John T. Myers Locks and Dam in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, to rehab the miter gates in the 1,200-foot lock chamber.
“At John T. Myers Locks and Dam, the Heavy Capacity Fleet is attempting to reduce the scope of work from 18 weeks, which was the duration the last time a similar project was performed, to 10 weeks,” Kenney said. “This Louisville District and R3F team realizes that pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone is prudent and rewarding; we are embracing the notion that we were not made for comfort, but for greatness.”
The DCV HAYWARD is currently experiencing a significant overhaul at Bayonne Dry Dock (BDD) as it prepares to meet the latest industry standards. This major refit aims to upgrade its crane infrastructure and align with the requirements of the Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection and the American Bureau of Shipping Classification.
As a part of this initiative, Bayonne Dry Dock has taken comprehensive measures to install a state-of-the-art main crane on HAYWARD’s forward deck. This cutting-edge piece of machinery boasts an impressive lift capacity of 20 tons. Further enhancing its capabilities, the crane will be powered by a new hydraulic power unit, driven by a Cummins EPA Tier 3 diesel engine.
A significant note for environmental enthusiasts is the introduction of environmentally-friendly hydraulic oils. Both the new main crane and the rescue boat davit crane will be utilizing these eco-friendly lubricants, reflecting a growing commitment to sustainable practices in maritime operations.
But the upgrades don't stop there. In addition to the crane installations, HAYWARD has undergone a series of other crucial repairs and maintenance works. Some of the significant efforts include the replacement of wasted steel in the hull and main deck, propeller and shaft reconditioning, meticulous cleaning of fuel tanks, and the diligent maintenance of sea valves and sea chests.
These extensive refits not only ensure the HAYWARD's continued compliance with maritime regulations but also underscore a commitment to safety, performance, and environmental responsibility in the shipping industry. As the works progress, industry insiders and maritime enthusiasts will be keenly watching the transformation of the DCV HAYWARD into a vessel equipped for the challenges of modern-day shipping.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District (SWG) awarded the fourth and final multimillion dollar contract for the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project (CCSCIP) September 25, 2023.
Callan Marine will receive approximately $102.9 million to complete dredging on the final stretch of the project—the Inner Harbor reach. With the final contract the entire project will beneficially use roughly five million cubic yards of dredged material.
“Through extensive resource agency coordination, cooperation with our non-federal sponsor—the Port of Corpus Christi—a close relationship with the Texas General Land Office and a tremendous partnership with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries program, about five million cubic yards of dredged material will be turned into almost 1,000 acres of something useful while leaving capacity in upland placement areas for routine maintenance dredging disposal,” said Lisa Finn, SWG’s environmental program manager for operations.
The overall channel improvement project would combat erosion within the channel by providing 395 acres of sacrificial erosion protection along with the construction of a 2,000-foot breakwater—to tie into a currently planned 4,000-foot breakwater—in the Nueces Delta. The Nueces Delta is currently eroding at a staggering rate of about 8.2 feet per year, Finn said.
The project also aims to nourish degraded habitats by converting 206 acres of open water in an estuarine marsh. An additional 120 acres of intertidal living shoreline will be created to provide shoreline protection and prevent road overtopping, Finn said.
The CCSCIP will also create another 200 acres of an industrial use site for local economic and commercial entities.
“With this project, the Galveston District makes great strides toward the Chief of Engineers’ vision to increase beneficial use of dredged material,” said Col. Rhett Blackmon, SWG’s district commander.
“This is one of the largest beneficial use projects the district has ever constructed,” said Chris Frabotta, SWG’s operations chief. “That much dredged material would fill up the Astrodome more than three times.”
The project will improve approximately 11.9 miles of the associated shipping channel, effectively widening the channel from 400 feet to 530 feet and deepening it from 47 feet to 54 feet.
SWG contributes to the wellbeing and economic success of local communities through its beneficial use of dredged material. Annually, the Galveston District dredges approximately 30 to 40 million cubic yards of material. USACE employs environmentally and economically responsible ways to utilize dredged materials for beneficial applications and improve eroded coastlines through beach nourishment and beneficial use programs. For more information on SWG’s beneficial use of dredged materials, visit: https://usace-galveston-district-beneficial-use-ceswg.hub.arcgis.com/.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, held a press conference Sept. 15, 2023, at their headquarters in New Orleans, La., to discuss planned efforts to address continued low-water conditions on the Mississippi River.
Col. Cullen Jones, USACE New Orleans District commander, briefed media on current steps the Corps plans to take to augment the existing underwater sill while working with the U.S. Coast Guard and navigation industry to maintain navigation along the Mississippi River. In addition, Plaquemines Parish President Keith Hinkley and Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness director, Casey Tingle, spoke to media at the conference about steps to ensure safe and sufficient water supplies for parish residents.“
The current National Weather Service Mississippi River forecasts the river’s volume to fall to historic lows over the next several weeks,” said Jones. “If these conditions occur, the USACE-constructed saltwater barrier sill is expected to be overtopped by saltwater intruding upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, leading to unsafe salinity conditions at municipal water intakes located north of the sill location.
”Efforts under consideration include barging water downriver to municipal treatment facilities and placement of Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units to allow for treatment of river water with high chloride levels. USACE has already issued a contract to place a reverse osmosis water purification unit at the East Pointe a la Hache Water Treatment Plant.
To mitigate for the Deep Draft Shipping Channel’s influence on the rate of upriver saltwater progression, USACE constructed an underwater barrier sill in July 2023 to create an artificial basin that delays the ingress of saltwater beyond river mile 64 above Head of Passes. An underwater sill was constructed on four previous occasions in 1988, 1999, 2012 and last year in 2022. During previous low-water events, such as 1988 and 2012, barging was used to transport fresh water to treatment facilities downriver of the saltwater wedge.
USACE continues to closely monitor, survey and model the impacts these conditions may have on the river with regards to both navigation and saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico. Saltwater intrusion is a naturally occurring phenomenon when the river flows fall below 300,000 cubic feet per second because the mass of fresh water is no longer capable of preventing saltwater from moving into the below-sea-level river channel. The current National Weather Service forecast projects river levels falling to approximately 130,000 cubic feet per second in the New Orleans area. These levels represent the lowest river volume in this area since the recorded low of 120,000 cubic feet per second in 1988.
“This low-water event marks the first time underwater sills were required in back-to-back years as a result of saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico,” Jones added. “However, the New Orleans District is ready to meet this challenge with the best science, engineering data, and technology available.”
A groundbreaking ceremony in the Pittsburgh region set the stage for updating the Ohio River’s oldest navigation system.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District welcomed industry, community and political leaders for the ceremony, digging shovels into a pile of dirt at the Montgomery Locks and Dam facility Aug. 11. The event marked the start of a construction project with benefits that will flow into the nation’s economy.
“You’ve probably noticed driving on site today. Construction is already underway,” said Col. Nicholas Melin, the commander of the Pittsburgh District.
“It’s only fitting that we lift our shovels and take this step together continuing the tradition of great partnership,” he said.
Melin shoveled the dirt alongside U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Austin Davis, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania; Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to the President and White House for infrastructure; Jaime A. Pinkham, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Mark Gentile, the president of Trumbull Corps; and Mary Ann Bucci, the executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.
“The Southwestern Pennsylvania economy couldn’t function without the Montgomery Locks and Dam. I worked to secure this investment from the infrastructure law so the Army Corps can upgrade the locks and dam to keep commerce flowing through our region,” Casey said.
“This is a celebration of a commitment of investment to a critically important project, not only for Beaver County, in southwestern Pennsylvania, and not only for our commonwealth, but for a significant region of the United States,” he said.
Montgomery is part of the Upper Ohio navigation system, which sees 15 to 20 million tons of materials pass through its river chambers annually. The Upper Ohio Navigation Project is expected to support 28,800 jobs over its construction life, and 5,400 jobs annually after completion.
“The investment we make today will pay dividends, not for years or decades but for generations. Long, long overdue,” Casey said.
Overall, the Pittsburgh District operates 23 locks and dams on the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers, saving shippers and consumers approximately $4 billion in transportation costs compared to using other means such as trucks or rail.
“Our inland waterways are a critical artery sustaining the nation's economy and families by delivering goods to our homes, connecting us to global markets, and bolstering employment. The investments we are making today will reinvigorate navigation and make it resilient to provide significant benefits for years to come,” Pinkham said.
The Corps of Engineers started constructing Montgomery Locks and Dam in 1932 and finished in 1936. The auxiliary lock has reached the end of its operational lifespan and is experiencing structural aging.
Plans for a new chamber will bring new life to the facility thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which has provided more than $900 million in funds for construction on the Upper Ohio River.
“What makes this project critical is the potential for structural failure of the lock walls, which would cause major interruption to river transportation,” said Chris Dening, the project manager for the construction of the Upper Ohio project.
“Many of the walls have significant cracking along and across their lengths. We have observed leaking within the lock walls during operation, which confirmed the seriousness of the situation,” Dening said.
If one of the lock walls failed, it would impact operations for several months. An unexpected failure would cause industry shippers to react, scrambling to find new ways to reroute shipments at the last minute.
“The upgrades we are making at Montgomery Locks and Dam are just the first of three major investments to modernize the upper Ohio River navigation system,” said Steve Fritz, the Mega Project program manager for the Pittsburgh District.
“We are building larger, newer, better locks that will provide a resilient navigation system in the Pittsburgh region for the next 100 years,” he said.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a significant boost to a much-needed infrastructure investment on the upper Ohio River.
In the meantime, the Pittsburgh District has taken several measures to address structural issues to avoid sudden failures. Pittsburgh’s engineers increased the frequency of their inspections at Montgomery and developed contingency plans for any potential emergency.
“However, those contingency efforts are costly, which is why we need to recapitalize the lock with a new construction,” Dening said.
The new locks construction will directly benefit commercial navigation by replacing older, smaller chambers, avoiding future bottlenecks and slowdowns, and saving costs to transportation industries.
“The river navigation system provides a cost-effective method for transporting bulk commodities. It is also environmentally friendly and reduces road congestion,” Dening said.
Transporting commodities on the waterways is four times less expensive than trucks and 33 percent cheaper than rail. Towboats on Pittsburgh’s rivers can push up to 15 barges at once, each carrying the same amount of material as 70 large semi-trucks or 16 rail cars.
The Upper Ohio Navigation project includes three locks: Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery, the first three on the Ohio River downstream from Pittsburgh.
The BIL provided $857 million for Montgomery construction and $77 million for Emsworth in 2022.
The 2022 funding places the Ohio River as the second-largest funded infrastructure project within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The BIL helps alleviate the problem of inconsistent funding experienced in the past several decades, which has caused major inflation in timeline and project costs in the past. For example, the district had received only $40 million combined in the five previous years for the Upper Ohio project.
Montgomery is the first facility to receive a larger 600-foot-long by 110-foot-wide lock chamber on the Upper Ohio system. District engineers plan to replace the smaller auxiliary chamber at all three facilities.
“[What] brings us here today is moving commerce from ships to shelves. This is just an incredible waterway that’s critically important to the economy of the entire United States of America,” Landrieu said.
The economic impact of a one-year closure at Montgomery Locks and Dam would cost the U.S. economy nearly $180 million. The roughly 12 million tons of cargo would require over 100,000 railcars or 400,000 trucks to compensate for the closure.
The BIL funded the district for about half of the required cost up front, allowing Pittsburgh to begin work at Montgomery as early as 2024, significantly speeding up the district’s timeline for construction.
The navigation system also plays a vital role in the developing of local industry. The cargo includes mainly coal, but industry also transports coke, petroleum products, raw and finished steel, and aggregates. Various companies use the system to transport large components for construction in the Pittsburgh region.
“Some of these components could not have been transported by other means due to their size,” Dening said.
The average age of the three Upper Ohio facilities is 96 years old, with aging conditions that could lead to major navigation shutdowns. The auxiliary chambers at the three facilities are the smallest on the Ohio River, causing bottlenecks and slowdowns during maintenance periods, proving too small for today’s commercial barges.
The Pittsburgh District has already completed project phases to prepare for the upcoming chamber construction. The plan includes removing the auxiliary chamber to expand the lock size, which will cut into the gated dam currently on the river.
The next phase will bring a batch plant on site, allowing engineers to mix and pour concrete in place much faster than cement trucks. The new lock at Montgomery will require about 400,000 cubic yards of concrete, equivalent to a football field covered nearly 200 feet high, or 1.6 billion pounds. The plant will produce nine different concrete mixes used in various types of construction, such as underwater, structural, and mass concrete, among others. An onsite laboratory will sample and test the concrete to ensure quality.
“It’s taken over a decade of dedicated effort from an interdisciplinary team to get us here today,” Melin said.
“This team has developed and delivered a solid plan that we are now ready to execute,” he said We’re lucky to have the same team moving forward to deliver a quality product that will sustain the navigation needs of this region.”