A public meeting was held in council chambers of Brookport City Hall on Thursday to discuss the demise of Dam 52.
Bill Gilmore, the constructability engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, had researched and reviewed the plans of C.J. Mahan chosen by the Corps to remove the cement structures in the river.
“At present only the river construction will be demolished, not the land buildings,” informed Gilmore to the 30 people attending the meeting.
Aaron Slates, project manager of C.J. Mahan Construction Co., explained the procedures and safety measures to be taken during the demolition of Dam 52 in a power point presentation. Once low water stages are reached, projected in late July, test blasts will occur first.
The river will be closed to all river traffic from the Brookport Bridge to the I-24 Bridge during a four-hour window while explosives are loaded and then detonated. Conditions permitting, the blast should occur around noon every day Monday through Saturday.
There will be two boats clearing the safety area of any river traffic before the blasts. A signal will sound 5 minutes before the blast and again 1 minute before the blast. An all-clear signal will occur afterwards.
Slates also stated email notifications with go out to all agencies — Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, area law enforcement — six hours and one hour before the blasts and with the all clear signal.
If a misfire should occur, all agencies will be notified, and the safety zone maintained until the misfire is cleared.
Cement debris will be loaded on the Illinois side of the river and will be covered with rip rap to an even slope. The wooden wickets will also be buried with the debris after removal.
The project is expected to be completed by December 2020. Work will only be conducted during the low water season.
Tom Greiwe, the blasting project manager of Kolb Grading LLC, further explained the explosions will not be large. “You’re more likely to hear just a thud,” said Greiwe. “Residents should not experience shaking buildings or rattling windows. The levee should not be affected.” Throughout the meeting, Greiwe answered many of those type of questions from the audience.
Lock and Dam 52 had outlived its usefulness as a navigational aid. Built between 1922-1928, it opened in 1928 to river traffic. It is one of the last moveable wicket dams on the Ohio River. Though modernized in the 1950s with a 1200-foot lock, it still caused a bottleneck in barge traffic.
The Olmstead Dam was designed to replace both Dam 52 and Dam 53 and has since took over keeping the river levels stable and is quicker to lock through.