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Project to Improve Charleroi Locks, Dam

The purpose of the current project is to replace the existing deteriorating lock chambers.

Tue June 16, 2015 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

The Charleroi Locks and Dam, situated along the Monongahela River between Pittsburgh, Pa., and Fairmont, W.Va., is undergoing improvements to its lock chambers. The purpose of the current project is to replace the existing deteriorating lock chambers with new wider lock chambers capable of handling longer and wider barge tows.

Joseph B. Fay Company, an i+iconUSA Company, is constructing the reinforced concrete middle wall monoliths, numbered M-22 to M-27. Fay’s new construction will provide a portion of the new middle wall that separates the two chambers. Construction has been phased by the United States Army Corps of Engineers based on limited annual funding and is proposed to continue for approximately seven more years.

The project began on Sept. 2, 2014, and is scheduled for completion on Sept. 11, 2018. The full dollar amount of the contract is $58,759,345.58, with funding coming from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Chris Pietrzyk serves as project manager for Fay.

“Fay is facing numerous challenges on this project,” Pietrzyk said. “The first challenge is high water and flooding events, which occurs from time to time working along the river [as happened in March]. As much of our work on this project is conducted from barges on the water, excessive high water periods cause work stoppage.”

He noted that another challenge is that the scope of work requires Fay to complete four demonstrations of key elements of the project. These demonstrations take weeks at a time to complete, and must be finished and inspected prior to the start of the actual production phase of that work.

“Finally, the level of documentation and submittals required by this federal government client is more than what is typically required by government clients at the state and local level,” Pietrzyk said. “The project is under a tight deadline, requiring Fay to plan appropriately and work overtime when needed to ensure it concludes on time.”

Pietrzyk noted that the project is unique because of all the construction sequence restrictions.

“There are several aspects and features of the project that need to be constructed in a specified sequence provided in the contract documents,” he said. “These restrictions greatly reduce our flexibility for resequencing the schedule during construction.”

Fay also is operating and maintaining an onsite (government owned) batch plant that has been idle for several years. This plant will be used for the production of all (approximately 20,000 cu. yds. [15,291 cu m]) cast-in-place concrete required for the project.

The work includes the building of steel cofferboxes in order to perform the monolith construction. The cofferboxes include 15,700 linear ft. (4,785 m) of sheet pile and 7,500 linear ft. (2,286 m) of wide flange king piles, along with 585,000 lbs. (265,535 kg) of walers, struts, and reinforcing structural steel.

Fay also is performing underwater excavation to remove existing river sands/gravel to a rock foundation and demolishing the existing river wall, fixed crest weir concrete sections, part of a footbridge structure above the lock chambers, and an existing closure cell.

In addition, Fay is fabricating massive precast culverts and constructing a new downstream guard cell and downstream closure, consisting of a cofferwall, tremie strut, and closure wedge. The existing stability cell will be raised.

Electrical and dam control utilities from the lock side to the dam abutment side will be relocated and a new elevated platform supporting a temporary electrical generator will be constructed.

As part of the work, Fay is drilling 45 shafts and will install 7,730 linear ft. (2,356 m) of King Piles and 13,810 linear ft. (4,209 m) of sheet piles. Nearly 20,000 cu. yds. (15,291 cu m) of tremie concrete (5,300 cu. yds. [4,052 cu m]) and CIP concrete (13,740 cu. yds. [10,505 cu m]) will be batched and placed. More than 2.3 million lbs. (1.04 million kg) of rebar will be used, and the cofferbox will include 585,000 lbs. of structural steel.

Equipment used by Fay on the project includes a Manitowoc 4100 crane and two Manitowoc 4000 cranes, as well as Komatsu 300 and 490 excavators. J&M V416B and ICE 44-50 vibratory hammers are being used, as well as a Berminghammer B-21 impact hammer. Loaders, backhoes, and skid steers are also being utilized on the job site. The company’s river equipment includes two tugboats, two workboats, and several barges.

Major subcontractors working on the job include Wellington Power, McCrossin, Steel Core, and River Salvage.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Web site: Charleroi Locks and Dam is among nine navigation structures that provide for year-round navigation on the Monongahela River between Pittsburgh and Fairmont. It maintains a pool for 19.7 mi. upstream to Maxwell Lock and Dam just south of Brownsville, Pa.

Charleroi Locks and Dam consists of two lock chambers and a gated dam. This type of dam is constructed to permit increased control over the water level in the navigation pool upriver of the dam. Machinery mounted on tall concrete piers moves large chains which lift gates that are hinged into the body of the piers. As the gates are raised or lowered to control the amount of water flowing under them, the upstream pool is maintained at a relatively constant level for an authorized depth of at least 9 ft. throughout its length. The dam, however, cannot be operated to control flood flows. An incidental benefit derived from the pool formed by the dam is the availability of a source of municipal and industrial water.

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