USACE Lauds Kentucky Lock Addition Project Contractor for Safety Milestone

Lt. Col. Robert W. Green, Nashville District commander, spoke during a special lunch Oct. 17 provided by the contractor for the workforce, and addressed the contractor and resident office team about safety and what it means moving forward without delays.

“To have a milestone like this on this project where we are meeting and exceeding production goals, but also keeping each other safe, is an exceptional milestone,” Green said. “I really appreciate that this can’t happen without a team effort.”

Green stressed that safety is also an individual responsibility requiring workers to look out for each other, and that ultimately makes it possible to keep the $380 million downstream lock monoliths contract on track. More importantly, leaders, safety officials and the folks on the ground make safety part of a culture and make it possible for people to go home safely each day, he added.

Thalle Construction Company workers enjoy lunch Oct. 17, 2023, while celebrating 500,000 labor hours without a lost-time accident at the Kentucky Lock Addition Project on the Tennessee River in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. (USACE Photo by Vanessa Rudd)

The Nashville District and its contractor, Thalle Construction Company, are building a larger 1,200-foot by 110-foot navigation lock chamber about 22 miles upstream of where the Tennessee River flows into the lower Ohio River. It’s a massive project with a lot of moving pieces and involves a lot of heavy equipment and conveyer systems placing concrete overhead.

Peter Tully, Tully Group president, recognized the complexity of the project and praised the construction leaders, the coaches and the captains, that care about the team.

“Just keep doing what you are doing. I appreciate it,” Tully said.

Steve Kohler, Thalle Construction president and chief executive officer, said that half a million hours are considerable and very meaningful because injuries can have huge impacts on the construction team and the project.

“The fact that we are tracking so positively here is truly impressive. I appreciate the safety group here. I appreciate the way they take care of the business and take care of people,” Kohler said. “My hope is that when everyone comes to work that each person intends to do their best that day.”

As workers ate their lunches, Kohler also drew attention to a sign inside the bay that noted how the team is bound together for the singular purpose of safely constructing, on time and on budget, a high-quality navigation project in support of the USACE civil works mission. He said it takes hard, dirty, sweaty work, and he appreciates the focus on safety in these conditions to meet these objectives.

Bill Ryan, Tully Group vice president of Risk Management, said leaders make it a point to engage the workforce from a perspective of education and encouragement, so everyone understands the importance of safety, to avoid injuries, and recognize that fatalities have negative impacts on people foremost.

“This is a very worthwhile project, one that you should be proud to be part of,” Ryan said. “My message to you is thank you and congratulations.”

Brian Sharpe, Thalle Project executive, said he is on site regularly and sees what is going on, and realizes that this is a very positive achievement.

“The one thing I want to talk about safety is that everybody here can help the safety program by looking out for the people working with you,” Sharpe said. “So be your brother’s keeper. Look out for one another so we can all go home safely.”

Jeremiah Manning, Nashville District’s resident engineer for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project, said the work is currently estimated for completion in May 2027, which will continue to require close coordination between the Corps of Engineers and contractor to ensure operations continue safely.

The project involves constructing 51 monoliths, which will require an estimated 375,000 cubic yards of concrete to complete the lock chamber. This is enough concrete to fill up more than 114 Olympic swimming pools. Thalle Construction Company has placed about 10 percent of the concrete as of September 2023.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at The public can also follow Kentucky Lock on Facebook at

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