NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded U.S. Facilities, Inc. based in Philadelphia, Pa., a contract modification to isolate and inspect the damaged valve at the Great Bridge Lock in Chesapeake, Va.
U.S. Facilities, Inc., a longtime U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ contractor that performs maintenance and operational work along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, is fabricating needed parts for the on-site inspection work next week.
According to Betty Grey Waring, Norfolk District’s Operation Branch chief, the repair plan includes construction of a cofferdam to dewater the valve area and allow the contractor access to perform a complete inspection of the damages. Once the cofferdam is in place, the Corps can operate the locks on a normal schedule.
Corps officials estimate that the inspection work will be completed in two weeks. Until the valve system is inspected and the damage assessed, the exact repair date is unknown.
The Norfolk District closed the Great Bridge Lock Nov. 5, after the underwater valve failed.
Contract divers performed a limited diagnostic inspection of the lock’s valve system and found that the concrete anchoring the valve had deteriorated.
Norfolk District conducts routine structural inspections on the Great Bridge lock, which was constructed in 1932; however, there are no standards for preventative maintenance of underwater valves, Corps officials said.
After Corps officials reviewed a plan to make inspections and repairs, they agreed they could operate the lock safely in favorable wind conditions and at low tide, when the water levels of the river and canal are even.
With the limited ability to open the locks, vessels have been able to transit the locks; however, there are some time delays.
Recreational vessels can continue to use the Deep Creek and South Mills Locks on the Dismal Swamp Canal, which are operational for boats that draft less than six feet. Operators at the Dismal Swamp Canal locks report increased vessel traffic, but no delays.
The district operates and maintains the AIWW and the Dismal Swamp and Albemarle and Chesapeake canals, including three highway drawbridges, three navigation locks, and 38 miles of canals. The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is a major inland protected route for commercial traffic, especially barges supplying fuel to the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va.
Mariners traveling along the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal can monitor marine radio channel 13 for updates, or follow the Norfolk District social media pages at www.twitter.com/norfolkdistrict or www.facebook.com/NAOonFB for updates on repairs.