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Repair Work at Columbia to Continue into 2019

Published Dec. 6, 2018

VICKSBURG, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District briefed industry partners, as well as local, state and federal officials, Nov. 30 on the current status of emergency repairs on Columbia Lock and Dam, which is located on the Ouachita River approximately seven miles upstream of Columbia, Louisiana.  

The Vicksburg District made stakeholders aware that repair work at Columbia Lock and Dam will continue into 2019, past the Corps’ initial estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2018. 

The schedule shift is the result of the Corps’ discovery of damages under the upper end of the lock that are more severe than initially estimated.

The district awarded an emergency repair contract to Massman Construction Co. of Leawood, Kansas, Aug. 16 for construction and repair of the lock and dam. 

As repair work continues, the district will be able to gain a better understanding of the extent of damages on the entire structure and of the repair schedule necessary to address the overall damage.

The lock will remain closed to navigation until further notice. 

“We are challenged with the predicament of continuing the repair work while not fully understanding the extent of damage to the entire structure,” said Col. Michael Derosier, Vicksburg District commander. “The discoveries are improving our understanding of the overall damages on the structure and the remediation work needed to address these damages. However, there are still a great deal of unknowns.”

In early July 2018, the Vicksburg District declared an emergency at Columbia Lock and Dam due to seepage and sand boils near the structure and voids under the lock wall. Columbia Lock and Dam has been closed to navigation since July 3. 

“Emergency repairs on the lock are the district’s number one priority,” said Derosier. “We are working with the Engineering Research and Development Center, the Levee Safety Center, the Inland Navigation Design Center and other federal partners to ensure that we are dedicating the best engineering minds and technology to understand the situation at Columbia.”

Six boat ramps operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers within the Columbia Pool were re-opened Nov. 27 as a result of rainfall and increases in Ouachita River stages. The boat ramps were closed in July 2018 due to the lowering of water levels within the pool in order to address emergency seepage repairs at Columbia Lock and Dam. 

The district will continue to closely monitor the river stages. The ramps may be closed again should stages fall to low levels that would threaten public safety or create damage to personal watercraft. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the world’s largest public engineering organization and has a firm commitment to preserving and enhancing our natural environment. The Corps is the largest federal provider of outdoor and water-based recreation in the nation. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.


Reagan Lauritzen

Release no. 18-066