ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new 1,200 ft. x 110 ft. lock chamber adjacent to the existing 600 ft. x 110 ft. lock chamber in Winfield, Mo. today. The original Lock 25 opened May 18, 1939, as the third to the last lock built in the Mississippi River system and passes approximately 23 million tons of commercial commodities through annually. Eighty-four years later, the St. Louis District along with several dignitaries held the official kick off to welcome the new construction of the additional lock chamber that will allow for two-way traffic and the construction of a fish passage structure at Lock 22 in Saverton, Mo.
Located in Winfield, Mo. (45 miles north of St. Louis), Lock and Dam 25 was selected for upgrades due to its location through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2022. The $829 million funding for the Mississippi River locks and dams upgrade is part of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program which will include the construction of a new 1,200-foot lock, as well as an environmental restoration project at Lock & Dam 22 and other small-scale ecosystem and navigation projects in the region.
“Today’s groundbreaking was what the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was all about – bringing new life into our existing infrastructure while jumpstarting our economy. Our environment, our jobs market, and our transport industry will be made better for the upgrades to Lock 25, which has been a fixture in the St. Louis region since the 1930s,” said Sen. Dick Durbin. “After years of advocating for significant funding for NESP and this project, today’s groundbreaking is an exciting day.”
The St. Louis District maintains a depth of at least nine feet by using dams to create pools (lakes), as well as by dredging and river training structures. The Corps operates locks 24 hours a day, seven days a week to allow vessels to pass from one pool to another. For commercial vessels, the capacity of the Mississippi River navigation system is limited by the existing lock facilities.
“Protecting and strengthening our inland waterways, especially the Mississippi River, is critical to growing our local economies and protecting the health and safety of our communities,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth said. “I’m so pleased to see the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program that I’ve worked to support getting the resources it needs through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, making the design and construction of Lock 25 possible. This project will help protect our environment, modernize our water infrastructure, and provide good-paying, local jobs for the region.”
Like most of the locks on the river, Lock 25 was constructed in the 1930s, and designed to accommodate smaller tows and only a fraction of the traffic volume that currently transits the system. The existing lock chamber is 600 feet long, while the prevailing 15-barge tow size has a length approaching 1,200-feet long. As a result, tows lock through using a two-step process, which takes approximately one and a half to two hours, causing significant delays to navigation. In contrast, a tow can lock through a 1,200-foot lock in approximately a half to one hour.
“The new 1,200-foot lock is nationally critical infrastructure and the reliability of this critical link in the Inland Waterways Navigation System is essential to U.S. agriculture and National Security, significantly reducing delays and increasing safety,” St. Louis District Commander, Col. Kevin Golinghorst said.
Phase 1 construction is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2024. The design for the remainder of the project is ongoing and is expected to be completed by Summer 2026. Construction for the reminder of the project is expected to begin shortly after design is completed and is currently forecasted to be completed and commissioned in 2034, pending further input from contractors. There are other work features that are being prepared in advance for the major construction efforts; these include, site access upgrades, steel bulkhead fabrication and navigational aids.
The St. Louis District is also pursuing design and construction utilizing Integrated Design and Construction methodologies that would allow the early integration of the construction contractors input through the design process. This would allow better integration and coordination between the designers, navigations stakeholders and the construction contractor.
The St. Louis District is dedicated to securing nationally critical infrastructure utilizing strategic efforts and partnerships driven by a common and nationally recognized vision throughout our nation. This project identifies shared priorities and interconnections between the many partnerships needed to deliver more resilient infrastructure that will significantly reduce delays and increase safety throughout the navigation industry and lays the foundation for future collaboration.
For more information visit: https://www.mvs.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Locks-and-Dams/Lock-Dam-25/1200-ft-lock-project/