CHESAPEAKE, Va. – The Great Bridge Lock on the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal reopened this afternoon after a two-day closure to vessel traffic.
Contractors, overseen by the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, removed and replaced a 72-ton set of aging lock gates as part of a service plan to increase the lifespan of the locks.
“This service and maintenance plan has proven to be cost-effective over the years, and ensures that the two canal routes, part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, remain navigable,” said Joel Scussel, Norfolk District’s project manager.
The two gates removed by Corps contractor U.S. Facilities, Inc., based in Philadelphia, Pa., were installed 25 years ago. The gates will undergo complete rehabilitation over the next several months and be cycled back into the lock gate rotation for future replacement.
Funding to replace the set of old Great Bridge lock gates was submitted two years ago and approved in the Corps’ fiscal year 2014 budget, Scussel said. New gates would have cost more than $900,000, Scussel said, but by using refurbished gates, the final price tag of the work; which included removal, replacement and rehabilitation; was $272,000.
The Great Bridge Lock gates, which were constructed by the Corps in 1932, are part of the eight sets of gates throughout the Albemarle and Chesapeake and Dismal Swamp Canal waterways. Each set of canal gates, which are managed and operated by the Norfolk District, is removed and refurbished on a rotational basis every 15 to 20 years.
The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal together with the Dismal Swamp Canal form the historic Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which provides pleasure boaters and commercial shippers with a protected inland channel between Norfolk, Va. and Miami, Fla.