Chickamauga Lock Down for “De-Watering” Inspection

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – If the 75 year old Chickamauga Lock were to fail, it would put thousands more big trucks on the highway.

And it would have a significant impact on the economy here in the Tennessee Valley.

But after two years of no funding, work has started up again.

If you’ve wondered what’s going on under the water down at the bottom of Chickamauga Lock, you’re not the only one.

The U-S Army Corps of Engineers is doing it’s close inspection that happens every 2 years—and the lock will be closed until August 11th.

KRISTEN SMITH, SR. PROGRAM MGR., DAM SAFETY “So now, we’re able to see the floor of the lock, the entire chamber wall, and access equipment and machinery underneath the water.”

Its the next step in a 755-million dollar replacement of Chick-lock, which won’t be completed until 2023.

But the lock has to be maintained until then.

KRISTEN SMITH “What we do look for are new cracks in the concrete …new erosion–anything that look’s different from the last time it was de-watered.”

TOMMY LONG “Well, in September, we’re about to award a 30-million dollar contract that’ll last about 2 years..part of the over all larger chick-lock project.”

The elevator to the bottom was not working today so out photographer Harrison Pirtle climbed down and back up to get these shots.

Right now Chick-Lock is the 4th highest priority of the Corps of Engineers. The new lock will improve river traffic by about 80 percent.

TOMMY LONG, RESIDENT ENGINEER, US ARMY CORPS OF ENG.”Right now, we have the existing lock that can only lock one barge in at a time. This new lock that we are putting in place will be able to do nine barges at one time, so it will significantly improve the traffic flow along the river.”

But for local boaters, it will be an inconvenience.

KRISTEN SMITH “Scheduled date to re-water the lock is August 11th.”

The Chickamauga lock passes the most recreational vehicles of any lock on the Tennessee River.

The plan is to award a 37-million dollar contract for concrete at the new lock next year, but that funding has not yet been approved by congress.

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