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Corps of Engineers Works to Repair & Maintain 80-Year-Old Lock

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Michelle O'Neill
/
WVIK News
A view from the bottom of Lock 15

This winter, people who use Government bridge to cross the Mississippi River have noticed a big crane and lots of workers at Lock 15 in the Quad Cities.

That's because the Corps of Engineers has drained all the water from the 35-foot tall lock to inspect and fix all its components.

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Michelle O'Neill
/
WVIK News
Matt Thurman, Chief of Maintenance, discusses pipes called bubblers and their role in lock operation.

Matt Thurman, Chief of Maintenance for the Rock Island District Mississippi River Project Office, says inspection can't be done at any other time. One job is to replace long, metal pipes he calls "bubblers." Workers use them to clear debris from the gates while they're moving, preventing damage.

His employees are also replacing the steel and concrete gate hinges at both ends of the 600-foot lock. They're also doing a lot of concrete and steel work on the walls and floor of the lock chamber.

Lock 15 hasn't been "dewatered" for around 25 years. Two years ago, the corps installed new gates. Thurman says the project will be completed in March, in time for navigation to resume. Lock 14 upstream at LeClaire was drained, inspected, and repaired last year.

This month, the corps announced it'll receive $1.2 billion in infrastructure and disaster relief funds. The Rock Island District will be in charge of several projects including the extension of Lock and Dam 25 from 600 to 1,200 feet.

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor which really just means she wears many hats, doing everything there is to do in the newsroom and around the radio station. She's a multimedia journalist and serves as Assignment Editor, reporter, radio news producer, copy editor, announcer, news anchor/host, and photographer. She also writes and produces content for WVIK.org and social media and trains interns.
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