Lock and Dam 52 set to be demolished by next year - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Lock and Dam 52 set to be demolished by next year

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BROOKPORT (WSIL) -- A system to help boats and barges travel the Ohio River in Brookport is set to be demolished. 

Crews will soon be setting off explosives daily to slowly take down the nearly 100-year-old lock and dam. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer told Brookport residents what to expect during the demolition in a public meeting Thursday night. 

Compared to most explosions, residents won't be able to hear, feel or see these. 

There will be multiple blasts over the next 18 months while crews demolish Lock and Dam 52, but crews can't start the process until water levels go down. 

The lock and dam is located less than two miles downstream of Brookport. 

A replacement dam opened in August in 2018 in Olmsted. 

The Olmsted Lock and Dam is one of the country's largest and most expensive infrastructure projects in history. 

During the public meeting the construction company and the Army Corps of Engineers told residents they do not expect a loud boom or any shaking. 

"We probably won't even feel it on shore," main engineer for the project Bill Gilmour said. "This project basically includes all of the river demolition."

The demolition company will use seismograph's on both the I-24 and Brookport Bridge to detect any shaking.

Gilmour reassured residents the buildings on the shore would not be harmed or touched during the demolition. 

The lock and dam was built in the 1920's to help make the water passable and transport millions of products. 

The company plans to blast everyday between Monday and Saturday at noon if the river levels permit it. 

All river traffic will be closed at least two hours prior to blasting and two hours after for safety precautions. 

Gilmour said after the explosion, the materials will be loaded onto barges and will be hauled onto the Illinois bank. 

"The existing 1,200 foot lock wall will basically be buried," Gilmour said. "The main reason for us to do that right now is it's going to save the government a lot of money removing it."

Currently the lock and dam is under water and crews will not start the demolition process until the river drops by at least four feet. 

"The water has to drop below the top of the lock walls," Gilmour said. 

Brookport resident Amanda Henley has lived in Massac County all her like and remembers visiting the lock and dam with her grandpa. 

"We used to get out of our car and there was a little bunch where you could sit and watch it," Henley said. 

Even Henley agrees, it's time for Lock and Dam 52 to come down. 

"It's done with, so why have it?" Henley said. "If it needs to come down, it needs to come down."

The demolition is expect to cost $35.5 million dollars. 

Crews hope to start testing the blasts by the end of July and will continue to work until the water rises again. 

Demolition is set to be complete by December 2020. 

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