Work to demolish and remove Lock and Dam 52 on the Ohio River near Brookport, Illinois, is set to begin as soon as river levels and conditions permit, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District.

The contractor, C.J. Mahan, of Columbus, Ohio, has equipment on site and is making preparations to begin the $35.5 million demolition project, according to Katelyn Newton, USACE public affairs specialist.

The demolition and removal of all lock and dam components is expected to last through December 2020.

"Demolition of the marine features at 52 is expected to include blasting of the concrete portions of the lock, which will break it up enough so that it can be removed in smaller chunks with heavy machinery," Newton said.

"The blasting plan and schedule is not yet finalized and approved by all parties, but it will be shared with the community in a public meeting before any blasting work begins."

The Corps is working with the Brookport and Paducah police departments, the U.S. Coast Guard and the navigation industry and will keep them informed of the blasting schedule and river traffic procedures once finalized, according to Newton.

With the opening of the new Olmsted Locks and Dam last year, Locks and Dam 52 and 53, located at Brookport and Grand Chain, Illinois, were no longer necessary.

The antiquated design of Locks and Dam 52 and 53, originally completed in 1928 and 1929, made it increasingly impossible to meet the modern-day traffic demands along the key stretch of the Ohio River.

Some demolition on Lock and Dam 53 has already begun, Newton said. The contract for that project is $36 million.

"The locks and dams there have served the country for 90 years," she said. "It's certainly the end of an era."

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