On Thursday, Nov. 9, Council leaders of the Gila River Indian Community, led by Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a solar-covered canal pilot project on the Tribe’s Level Top Canal.
The historic agreement was approved by the GRIC Council on November 1.
The agreement starts the first phase of the solar-over-canal project and will involve construction of solar panels over a portion of the Community’s 1-10 Level Top canal to conserve water and generate renewable energy for tribal irrigation facilities.
This historic agreement represents the first solar-over-canal project of its kind in the United States to initiate construction. The cost of Phase I of the solar-covered canal project is estimated to be $6.744 million, and it is expected to produce approximately 1 MW of renewable energy to offset energy needs and costs for tribal farmers.
With the execution of this historic agreement, the Army Corps will now begin the actual construction phase of the project, with completion expected in 2025.
In his remarks during the event, Governor Lewis offered his appreciation to Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for his partnership in this project.
“I want to personally thank Assistant Secretary Connor for his vision and steadfast support for this innovative project. Our work with the Assistant Secretary dates back decades and the Community deeply appreciates him and his support.”
ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke attended the signing ceremony.
“This is the type of creative thinking that can help move all of us toward a more sustainable future,” said Director Buschatzke.
“Leveraging existing infrastructure such as the Level Top Canal to help provide sustainable, dependable energy – and to do so as part of cooperative partnership like this one – constitutes a win all around.”
Following remarks from Governor Lewis and Assistant Secretary Connor, the parties signed the agreement to begin construction of the project, which is designed to generate clean, renewable energy as well as help reduce evaporation.
A “Project Partnership Agreement,” or PPA, is a legally binding agreement between the federal government and a non-Federal sponsor such as state or municipal governments, or, as in this instance, a Native American Tribe. The projects historically involve construction of a water resources project.
The PPA describes the project and the responsibilities of the federal government and the non-federal sponsor in the cost sharing and execution of work.
In the heart of Dallas, Texas, stands a testament to flood risk management, public safety, partnership, and engineering excellence- the Dallas Floodway project. The Flood Risk Management project recently reached a milestone with the substantial completion of the West Levee 277k crest raise and side slope flattening features of work.
As with any complex, multi-year civil works construction project, partnership plays a pivotal role in project success. For the Dallas Floodway, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has partnered with the City of Dallas as the non-federal sponsor as well as other Federal, State, and Local agencies.
A levee is defined as a man-made structure, usually an earthen embankment, designed and constructed in accordance with sound engineering practices to contain, control, or divert the flow of water to reduce risk from temporary flooding. While levees can help reduce the risk of flooding, it is important to remember that they do not eliminate the risk. As with any manmade structure, routine and reoccurring maintenance is important. The City of Dallas maintains the responsibility of ensuring the levees retain their effectiveness through compliance with operations and maintenance activities.
The funding for these initiatives was allocated through the Supplemental Appropriation in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
"Flood protection is at the heart of this project, aiming to keep the surrounding communities and businesses from flooding. We aim to fulfill the Corps mission of keeping people safe," said Aaron Philips, USACE Construction Project Coordinator at the Dallas Floodways Resident Office.
Spanning along the Trinity River, the project encompasses a substantial area, reaching from the abandoned Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe trestle to the confluence of the West and Elm Forks, and further upstream along the West Fork for about 2.2 miles, as well as approximately four miles along the Elm Fork.
The construction phase, while in its beginning stages, consists of over seven different features: the AT&SF Bridge Modification (completed in February 2021), 277K Levee Raise and Side Slope Flattening, construction of the Trinity Portland Pump Station, construction of the Charlie Pump Station, replacement of the Delta Pump Station, construction and upgrade to the Hampton Pump Station and improvements to the Nobles Branch Sump.
"Currently, the 277k levee raise, the construction of the Charlie pump station, and the Trinity Portland pump station just scratch the surface of the seven features planned," said Mark Hermann, USACE Program Manager.
Named the "277K levee raise and side slope flattening”, the $56 million project's moniker stems from the levee's elevation intended to sustain 277,000 cubic feet per second of water flow through the floodway. This amount of flow would be the equivalent of three Olympic sized swimming pools releasing their water in an instant.
The project involves raising the current East and West levees over a 23-mile stretch to the 277k cubic feet per second water surface elevation as well as flattening the riverside slopes. The 277k levee raise involves using earthen material to raise the low areas of the current levees to the height consistent with the 277k flow within the floodway. The side slope flattening consists of flattening the slopes of the levee to make them less steep. This will increase the overall stability of the levees and decrease operations and maintenance costs once completed.
On August 2, 2023, after years of planning and a year and a half of construction, the project reached a milestone by completing all improvements to the West levee along the Trinity River in Dallas.
A joint inspection of the 277k Levee Raise and Side Slope Flattening for the west levee was conducted by the USACE and the construction company, transferring over the responsibility of operation and maintenance to the City of Dallas.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers number one priority is public safety, and so with the 277k levee raise and pump station improvements across the Dallas Floodway program, we are delivering that for the City of Dallas," said Stanley Young, USACE Resident Engineer.
The overall Dallas Floodway project, with its commitment, collaboration, and forward-thinking approach, edges closer to its goal of delivering a strong and capable levee system for the City of Dallas. Its dedication stands as a testament to mitigating flood risks to the community from potential natural disasters while assuring their well-being remains paramount.
About the Dallas Floodway: Find out what the Corps of Engineers is doing in the Dallas Floodway by visiting our dedicated website here:
Nov. 15 marks the second anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, legislation that delivered $17.1 billion in supplemental funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers across the enterprise. Of that total investment, approximately $1.7 billion was appropriated to the North Atlantic Division to support investigations (studies), construction, the Continuing Authorities Program, and operations and maintenance.
"The transformative investments of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will continue to meet the President’s priorities of strengthening supply chains to bring down costs for working families, protecting American economic competitiveness, combatting climate change, and promoting equity by prioritizing underserved communities," said Michael L. Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
At the division, regional management for BIL projects is handled through its Civil Works directorate and specifically by the lead BIL project manager, Ronald Pinzon, who came to the division a year ago after working at the USACE New York District.
“The highlight of working on BIL, especially coming from the district where I worked for about 20 years, is taking all of the experience from other jobs I’ve had and applying it here directly with headquarters regionally, as well as nationally,” said Pinzon. “It’s a whole lot of learning, but it’s also solving issues and barriers that the districts are coming across, and I get to help them with their execution by addressing those challenges.”
Presently, approximately $240 million of NAD’s BIL allocation has been executed. Some project highlights across the region over the past couple of years since BIL was passed include:
The Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration project is in the vicinity of the James and Barren Islands in western Dorchester County, Maryland. It focuses on restoring and expanding island habitat to provide hundreds of acres of wetland and terrestrial habitat for fish, shellfish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals through the beneficial use of dredged material. The project implements a long-term strategy for providing viable placement alternatives to meet the dredging needs of the Port of Baltimore while maximizing the use of dredged materials as a beneficial resource. The project consists of constructing environmental restoration projects at both James and Barren Islands to restore 2,144 acres of remote island habitat (2,072 acres at James Island and 72 acres at Barren Island). BIL appropriated $84 million in construction funds, and the project partnership agreement for the construction phase of the overall $4 billion project was executed Aug. 23, 2022.
At Buffumville Lake in Charlton, Massachusetts, BIL provided more than $530,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking lot and access improvements. From October 2022 to May 2023 work included removing a shelter, repaving the emergency access road to the beach, increasing ADA parking spaces from three to 10, and building a new paved walkway leading to an ADA-compliant ramp with handrails to the restrooms. The Buffumville team identified the need for this work in 2017 and BIL allowed it to come to fruition. The prior lack of handicapped access was a frequent comment by visitors before the improvements, and according to the site’s park rangers, the team has received many positive comments since the area reopened.
The New York District is leveraging an infusion of $126 million in BIL funding to undertake crucial maintenance and enhancement projects across several vital waterways, including Barnegat Inlet in New Jersey, New York Harbor and the extensive network of channels serving the bustling Port of Newark and Elizabeth in New Jersey. This strategic allocation of funds is poised to fortify the infrastructure that underpins an estimated $15.7 billion in economic activity, both regionally and nationally. The investment will address sediment accumulation, navigational safety, and ecological sustainability, ensuring the shipping and recreational channels remain accessible and reliable. These improvements are expected not only to sustain but to potentially boost economic vitality by optimizing the efficiency of commercial vessel transit and safeguarding the region's reputation as a premier maritime hub.
BIL appropriated $141.7 million in construction funds for the Norfolk Harbor and Channels, 55-ft. Channel Deepening project in Virginia. On Oct. 16, Norfolk District opened bids on USACE’s third construction contract supporting the project. The milestone is significant, because with this path to contract award, the 55-ft. channel project could be ready for use by deeply laden containerships and coal ships as early as the spring of 2025. The contract package also has options for the beneficial use of beach sand at two locations in the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Earlier contracts using BIL funds were awarded in August 2022 for the Channel to Newport News and Norfolk Harbor Inners Channels and in April 2023 for Phase 1 of the Atlantic Ocean Channel. Other portions of the project in Thimble Shoal Channel are nearly completed by the Virginia Port Authority to fulfill their share of the overall project cost of approximately $472 million.
The Inland Waterway from Rehoboth Bay to Delaware Bay project (also known as Lewes & Rehoboth Canal in Sussex County, Delaware) received BIL funding enabling the dredging of the federal channel of the canal for the first time in many years. USACE’s contractor began work in October 2023. The dredged material from the canal will be placed in a facility in Lewes, Delaware, and the contractor will be removing approximately 40,000 cubic yards of sediment at a cost of $1.6 million. The waterway is used by commercial and recreational fishing charter boats, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Delaware Bay and River Cooperative (DBRC). BIL appropriated $3.78 million for Operations and Maintenance funding.
“Throughout the North Atlantic Division, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law brings solid investment to a variety of projects that benefit the people of the region in terms of safety, quality of life and disaster mitigation, to name just a few important aspects,” said Col. John P. Lloyd, NAD commander and division engineer. “This supplemental funding has enhanced USACE’s ability to deliver the program and meet the needs of our state and local partners on projects that will make a difference at the community level.”
USACE’s overall fiscal year spend plans and policy guidance for implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are listed on the headquarters website at: https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Supplemental-Work/BIL/.
November 14, 2023 - Tetra Tech, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEK), a leading provider of high-end consulting and engineering services, announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Rock Island District, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, selected Tetra Tech for a $33 million task order to provide architectural and engineering (A-E) services to design a new 1,200-foot navigation lock on the Illinois River.
Tetra Tech was awarded the task order through the USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Contract. Tetra Tech scientists, consultants, and engineers will design the new lock chamber to improve efficiency, reliability, and safety for navigation traffic along the river. The new lock will be twice as long as the existing lock system which will reduce wait times by more than seventy percent, accommodate larger vessels, and improve mariner safety. The project is a top priority of the USACE Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program.
"The USACE Rock Island District maintains navigable waterways that are essential to the transportation of goods throughout the Midwest," said Dan Batrack, Tetra Tech Chairman and CEO. "Tetra Tech looks forward to using our Leading with Science® approach to design systems that improve critical infrastructure, support public safety, and enhance the resilience and reliability of U.S. waterborne transportation supply chains."
About Tetra Tech
Tetra Tech is a leading provider of high-end consulting and engineering services for projects worldwide. With 27,000 employees working together, Tetra Tech provides clear solutions to complex problems in water, environment, sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, and international development. We are Leading with Science® to provide sustainable and resilient solutions for our clients. For more information about Tetra Tech, please visit tetratech.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District and Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) celebrated completion of the 2023 construction season’s work on a new wetland ecosystem being built in Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
USACE and its contractor, Michigan-based Ryba Marine Construction Co., placed bedding stone across the mouth of the abandoned Shipping Slip 3, forming the first layer of a submerged breakwater to contain material dredged from the Buffalo River and placed in the slip to create the base of the new ecosystem.
“The Corps of Engineers is excited to share this season’s progress on the Outer Harbor wetland project with Western New York,” said Lt. Col. Colby Krug, commander of the USACE Buffalo District. “The positive impact this project will have on generations of people, plants, and wildlife across the community is something I’m proud of, especially as a Buffalo native.”
“This $14.8 million initiative is that latest component of a two-decade, more-than $200 million, coordinated, multi-agency effort to take Buffalo’s greatest natural asset, its Lake Erie shoreline, and convert it from an inaccessible post-industrial wasteland into an interconnected system of parks and urban natural habitat, the acreage of which is roughly equal to New York City’s Central Park,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “I thank the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation under the direction of Governor Kathy Hochul, and the Buffalo District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the leadership of Lt. Col. Colby Krug for their leadership in advancing this important work.”
“It’s been exciting to watch the progress in creating Slip 3’s new wetland ecosystem,” said Mark Wendel, president of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. “Directly adjacent to Wilkeson Pointe, where an extensive, year-and-a-half long improvement project is starting this fall, the Slip 3 project will help renew key elements of the aquatic habitat that New York State and Governor Hochul recognize are crucial to a vibrant waterfront.”
“Addressing legacy pollution from the Great Lakes and improving critical ecosystems is an investment in public health and our future,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “EPA is proud to work with the partners through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, to improve and restore aquatic habitat along Buffalo’s waterfront area. This work will benefit all of Buffalo’s communities and the natural world for generations to come.”
In partnership with ECHDC, the overall $14.8 million project aims to reverse coastal wetland degradation in the Niagara River system and across the Great Lakes. Decades of industrial development and hardening of shorelines has diminished fish nursery and spawning habitats in these areas.
The project is being conducted in three phases – construction of the breakwater, placement of dredged material, and formation of aquatic and sub-aquatic habitat.
This season’s construction, which started in September and concluded on Oct. 19, included placement of 17,200 tons of bedding stone in Slip 3. The bedding stone is expected to displace silty sediment at the bottom of the slip and settle over the winter.
During the celebration, Krug, Higgins, Wendel, and USEPA Public Affairs Officer Mike Basile, along with members of the ECHDC Board of Directors, representatives of New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, New York State Assembly District 149, the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, and the City of Buffalo Common Council contributed to the project’s current phase by ceremoniously tossing stones into the slip at the site of the breakwater.
USACE and Ryba Marine will resume construction in 2024, with placement of additional bedding stone, followed by 4.8 feet of underlayer stone and 7.2 feet of armor stone.
The completed breakwater will extend across the entire mouth of the slip, with a portion submerged to allow for connectivity to the Lake Erie and the increased health of the future wetlands. Construction of the breakwater (Phase 1) is expected to conclude in September 2024.
In the project’s second phase, approximately 285,000 cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Buffalo River over a six-year period (an estimated three cycles) will be placed in Slip 3 to create 6.7 acres of coastal wetland habitat. The first cycle of maintenance dredging used to contribute to the project is contracted to start in October 2024. The sediment is certified as clean by state and federal standards and approved for this beneficial use.
In the project’s third phase, planting of native species will include submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation that can compete with invasive species and provide high-quality aquatic habitat for both aquatic species and migratory/resident bird species. The new habitat will also include gravel beds, rock piles, root wads, logs, and existing dock piles to provide maximum habitat complexity and structure.
Project information and safety signage will be installed along Fuhrman Boulevard outside Slip 3 and neighboring Wilkeson Pointe to keep the public informed and help ensure safety at the site. Hazard marker buoys will be placed to mark where the breakwater stone has been placed since the entirety of the breakwater will be submerged until underlayer stone is placed next season.
Plans for habitat creation at the Outer Harbor used lessons learned from previous partnership between USACE and the City of Buffalo in the first successful beneficial use project on the Great Lakes – restoring a wetland ecosystem at Unity Island. Slip 3 was identified by a multiagency committee as a habitat management opportunity in the Niagara River Area of Concern.
The feasibility study for this project was 100% federally funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). USACE and ECHDC executed a Project Partnership Agreement in January 2022 enabling the design and implementation phase, now underway. Design and implementation is cost-shared 65% Federal (USACE) and 35% Non-Federal (ECHDC with funding from the GLRI).
Based on the current USACE construction budget, the ECHDC total commitment over the course of the project will be $4,972,000 over a 12-year period. This funding is from the New York Power Authority, through relicensing agreements tied to the operation of the Niagara Power Project.
Renderings of the site are available at: https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/ECHDC-slip-No3-images.pdf
More information about the USACE Buffalo District is available online at: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/.
The Buffalo District delivers world class engineering solutions to the Great Lakes Region, the Army and the Nation in order to ensure national security, environmental sustainability, water resource management, and emergency assistance during peace and war.
Artificial intelligence (AI) took the world by storm in 2023 when various rapidly-improving text-language models became publicly available. Since then, the human race has delved into the wacky, wild world of AI and faced some pressing questions: how do I trust the content I find online? Is my self-driving car plotting world domination? Will my toaster have a midlife crisis?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District also is facing some of these questions since today’s world is watching bits and bytes come face-to-face with backhoes, bulldozers, and barges. Since other sectors like healthcare, finance, education, automobiles, disability services, astronomy, etcetera etcetera are already using AI, the question becomes where AI’s future is in river navigation, flood damage reduction, emergency management, and other Corps of Engineers missions.
For the uninitiated, AI is a broad term that applies to a range of topics, but the part of AI most-commonly referenced is machine learning. ML feeds a software system massive amounts of training data to learn patterns and model those patterns in its decision-making.
AI generally has two categories: strong and weak. Strong AI is a machine capable of solving problems it has never been trained on, like a person can. Strong AI is what we see in movies – think self-aware androids. This technology does not exist yet.
Weak AI operates within a limited context for limited purposes, such as self-driving cars, conversation bots, and text-to-image simulators. Weak AI is what we see in OpenAI tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E, and the results can be pretty good (as seen in this social media photo):
…but that’s about all it can do.
Granted, AI is a natural progression of technology. What began with search engines is continuing through digital synthesis, and organizations like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District are assessing how it can assuage the opportunities of AI to serve the public better while managing AI’s detractors.
The Corps of Engineers, being a civil works agency, has had some involvement in technological innovations throughout its nearly 250-year history. While the corps was not responsible for the top-line scientific discoveries, it did build the K-25 plant for the Manhattan Project (which, in 1942, was the largest building ever constructed). It later provided construction and design assistance in the 1960s for NASA at the John F. Kennedy Space Center.
However, this is not to say the corps is always at the forefront of modern technology. Much like the district’s 23 locks and dams on the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers – some of which have been around for more than a century – tried-and-true methods that have withstood the test of time do not always necessitate immediately upgrading to the next model.
For instance, Allegheny River Lock 5 in Freeport, Pennsylvania, began operating in 1927 and installed an improved hydraulic system in 2023 to upgrade its resilience. Operators manage the hydraulic system with a touch screen.
The old system, shown here at Allegheny River Lock 6, involved a singular hydraulic system manually operated by levers positioned along the lock wall.
Fun fact: Lock 5 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
“There’s a whole panel of valve indicators, and it’s just like turning a dial,” said Anthony Self, a lock operator on the Allegheny River who has been with the district since 2015. “It’s controlling eight valves at a time to fill the chamber. We have much more precise control.”
The next step is implementing remote lock operations. As part of the Lower Mon construction project on the Monongahela River, Charleroi Locks and Dam is assembling a control tower to consolidate the facility’s locking capabilities to a single touchpoint.
The district is not averse to other types of emergent technology, either. The district’s geospatial office has been using drone technology since the time drones became publicly available, to map aerial footage of regional waterways, conduct inspections, monitor construction, digital surface modeling and more.
“We can even document the spread of harmful algal blooms at reservoirs or fly in emergency response situations during floods,” said Huan Tran, a member of the flight team in the geospatial office.
“We often talk about being a world-class organization, so your technology must be on point. You can’t be behind somebody else’s capabilities,” Kristen Scott, the chief of the geospatial section for the district.
Nevertheless, as AI opens its digital maw as the technological “next step,” the district has not jumped on the AI train…yet.
This is probably for the best – emergent technology is, well, emergent, and the corps doing its job right can sometimes be the difference between life and death.
Take flood-damage reduction, for instance. Pittsburgh District’s 16 flood risk-management reservoirs have prevented more than $14 billion in flood damages in its 26,000-square-mile footprint since their construction nearly a century ago. Regardless of how intelligent AI becomes, the corps will never solely rely on it to make a decision impacting people’s safety.
“It’s a powerful tool, and it’s a good thing, but we’re not empowering automation to take over decision-making or executing plans,” said Al Coglio, the district’s chief of emergency management.
Coglio’s job is critical. He coordinates with FEMA to send teams and emergency generators to areas devastated by natural disasters and left without power.
“We've gotten to the point now where we're saturated with data, and there's no real good way to use it,” said Coglio. “Back when I was growing up, if you wanted to learn something, you had to physically go to a library unless you were in a rich family and had encyclopedias. Now there’s so much information readily available at our fingertips.”
For Coglio, AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for not just the district, if implemented responsibly and can assist in the predicting, planning and prestaging phases of a natural disaster.
“If you look at all the different types of disasters like flooding, tornadoes, historical weather, and historical emergencies resulting from weather, I think automated intelligence can give us a better focus area,” said Coglio. “Even for mapping floods in Pittsburgh, we have general ideas, but what does that do for the average citizen? They’re concerned with if their house floods and automated intelligence can give them the specifics they need to know.”
Despite the opportunities AI presents, some are skeptical about its place in the current cultural conversation.
“I don’t think most people saw the next ‘big thing’ before it was the next ‘big thing,’” said Lt. Col. Daniel Tabacchi, the district’s deputy commander. “Are we lionizing it? Are we overstating the impact or effect AI will have? It’s hard to tell.”
“Then again, I haven’t used it for anything other to make my work easier,” added Tabacchi.
And for others in the district, AI’s advent does not change a thing about their day-to-day work. While any use of AI will always have human oversight, some areas that require boots-on-the-groundwork, such as lock operations, are not applicable.
“Do I think artificial intelligence will ever replace lock operations? No, absolutely not,” said John Dilla, the district’s chief of the Locks and Dams Branch. “It could enhance the data we use for operations and maintenance, but there are minute-to-minute understandings and decisions between lock operators and boat crews that a computer can’t do. People are irreplaceable.”
In the future, the district has opportunities to use artificial intelligence as a tool to serve better the 5.5 million people in its region while capitalizing on advancing technology.
But does AI itself concur?
Well, we asked one. It said this:
“AI, as a cutting-edge tool, has the potential to substantially augment the capabilities of the Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District. Its data-driven decision-making, predictive modeling, and resource optimization can optimize infrastructure management, leading to improved public service and resilience in the face of challenges.”
AI seems to agree, but maybe it just wants us to think it agrees.
The Upstream Approach Walls for the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project got a solid start when work crews placed 148 cubic yards of tremie concrete Sept. 20 into the drilled shaft on the bottom of the Tennessee River.
Allen Malcomb, contracting officer’s representative at the Chickamauga Lock Resident Engineer Office, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District team worked closely with the contractor, C.J. Mahan, to ensure the smooth operation that required putting concrete trucks on a barge and into position to place concrete.
“I was there to monitor that the contractor was performing the work safely and address safety issues if they came up,” Malcomb said. “No major safety issues were observed due to the contractor’s communication and planning prior to making the placement.”
The contractor tested the concrete at the on-site batch plant to ensure fresh properties met contract requirements. After batching and testing, the three trucks were loaded onto a barge and pushed out to the placement site on the upstream side of Chickamauga Dam. At the placement location, the team tested the concrete again for quality, then each truck placed 10 cubic yards of concrete into a 91-foot-deep pipe into the shaft.
“As the concrete pumped, the contractor’s quality control team and the government’s quality assurance team monitored the concrete placement to verify the concrete rose as expected, embedment was maintained, and concrete quality was visually acceptable,” Malcomb added.
Matthew Curvin geologist in the Quality Assurance Section at the Chickamauga Lock Resident Office, said the first delivery of concrete had changed properties, so the contractor adjusted the concrete proportions and mixing time at the batch plant and improved concrete quality for a successful placement. The contractor began placing concrete at around 9:20 a.m. and completed the first of 14 shafts for the upstream approach wall piers by around 2 p.m., he said.
The amount of work performed on this drilled shaft is not visible at the surface of the lake. The size of the rebar cage in the shaft and its complexity in placing concrete is hidden by the water and casing. The contractor and Corps of Engineers worked closely to address safety concerns and placed concrete with no incidents or injuries.
“The Tennessee River is not an easy environment to work in due to the flow of the river and the geology of the bedrock that they are building on,” Curvin said. “C.J. Mahan leadership and staff worked in tandem with good communication and teamwork.”
To build the piers, the contractor must drill 14 eight-foot diameter shafts up to 35-feet into the bedrock, which is up to 135 feet below the surface of Chickamauga Lake. The shaft is drilled through a permanent steel casing. After the drilling is completed, a pre-constructed rebar cage is lowered into position. Up to 300 cubic yards of tremie concrete is placed in the shaft.
Capt. Joseph Cotton, Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project manager, said each shaft will anchor the approach wall beans in place that will be visible on the surface of the lake that will guide vessels into the new navigation lock. As shafts are completed, C.J. Mahan will begin work on the piers that will hold the approach wall beams in place, he explained.
“Approach walls act as a guide for barge operators when maneuvering their vessel towards the lock chamber,” Cotton said. “It provides a location to tie off barges that are waiting to move through and provides a water break to reduce the effects of current and wave action from the dam spillway or during inclement weather.”
Work on the approach walls is expected to continue through December 2024 and is integral in bringing the new Chickamauga Lock to an operational status. Once the new lock is commissioned, a tow system, commonly referred to as a mule, will be installed allowing barges to be moved in and out of the lock chamber without a boat.
“The new Chickamauga Lock will allow the passage of up to nine barges at a time compared to the single barge that the existing lock can pass. This greatly increases the speed that barges can move through the lock and helps create a safer work environment for mariners,” Cotton added.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can follow Chickamauga Lock on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/chickamaugalock.)
AECOM, announced that a joint venture between AECOM and Black & Veatch (AECOM-B&V Lakes and Rivers JV) has been selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to provide architectural and engineering services for infrastructure projects for the 17 states within the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, and nationwide. The multiple-award contract has a five-year term and is funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“We’re proud to continue our 100-year partnership with the USACE delivering infrastructure solutions that protect communities and the environment,” said Karl Jensen, executive vice president of AECOM’s National Governments business. “This important work ties directly to our firmwide environmental, social, and governance objectives, which are rooted in our commitment to delivering a better world, and we look forward to teaming with Black & Veatch on this transformative program.”
The program will focus on renovating and modernizing infrastructure, mitigating flood risks, and restoring ecosystems. Projects under this contract are expected to include sustainable design, renovation, and modernization of critical infrastructure, including dams, locks, levees, flood walls, pump stations, bridges, roadways, and canals, as well as stand-alone buildings and ecosystem restoration.
“As the USACE seeks to reduce disaster risks and energize local economies, we’re proud to bring comprehensive expertise in sustainability and resiliency that meets its program’s complex technical needs,” said Matt Crane, chief executive of AECOM’s U.S. West region. “Our team is excited by the opportunity to design innovative solutions that improve critical infrastructure and strengthen resilience for generations to come.”
The scope of work may include master planning; feasibility studies; site assessments; permitting; environmental compliance; and design for design-bid-build and design-build projects. Through an integrated design approach and an emphasis on environmental stewardship, sustainable design efforts may include energy and water conservation, use of recovered and recycled materials, use of alternative energy, and waste reduction measures.
“Black & Veatch’s civil works solutions have supported federal and military clients for more than a century and continue to expand globally,” said Rick Kaiser, Federal Agencies Segment Leader and President of BV Special Projects Corp. for Black & Veatch. “The joint venture will deliver sustainable, critical infrastructure that plays a crucial role in protecting the environment and improving lives in surrounding communities.”
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.”
The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project has been selected as the recipient of the National Academy of Construction Recognition of Special Achievement Award.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, and its partners, the cities of Fargo, North Dakota; Moorhead, Minnesota; and the Metro Flood Diversion Authority, are working cooperatively to implement this critical project.
According to NAC, the award highlights creativity, innovation, vision, and accomplishments of practitioners in the engineering, design and construction industries. From concept to construction, USACE and its partners consistently solved challenges on this complex project to include splitting work between the entities to allow simultaneous design and construction which expedites project completion by approximately 10 years when compared to traditional delivery methods. Additionally, as the first USACE project in the nation to leverage a public private partnership delivery model, the St. Paul District, the Cities of Fargo and Moorhead and the Metro Flood Diversion Authority are setting the example of how to deliver projects to the nation more efficiently in a resource-constrained environment. Dozens of consultants and construction firms have participated in the effort, showing the strength of the private commitment to the project.
“NAC is thrilled to select this project for our second annual Recognition of Special Achievement Award,” said Edd Gibson, NAC president and CEO. “What stood out to us when evaluating the project was the impact that it will have on both North Dakota and Minnesota, as it is truly a generational project that will help citizens of both states for decades to come. And it provides a good road map on how to innovatively address resilience and sustainability in a large civil infrastructure project. All involved are to be applauded for their dedication to improving the lives of those in this region.”
“Congratulations to our USACE teammates and our partners, the cities of Fargo, Moorhead, and the Metro Flood Diversion Authority for this well-deserved recognition,” said Lt. Gen. Scott A Spellmon, 55th Chief of Engineers and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general. “In spearheading the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Area flood risk management project, the St. Paul District exemplified the kind of innovation and partnership that we strive for, as we work to protect communities and engineer solutions for the nation’s toughest challenges.”
The award will be presented to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the NAC annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts Oct. 12.
The $3 billion federal project includes a 30-mile diversion channel with upstream staging and floodwater storage as well as 21 bridges (18 highway, 3 railroad); 2 aqueduct structures; nearly 40 miles of levees and floodwalls; 3 large, gated control structures; 22 miles of dam embankment; 4 miles of Interstate-29 raise; and environmental and cultural mitigation and monitoring. This project will provide flood risk management for nearly 260,000 people and 70 square miles of infrastructure in the communities of Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, North Dakota; Horace, North Dakota; and Harwood, North Dakota, and will save the nation millions of dollars annually in flood fighting and potential flood damages.