News: Chinese transportation delegation visits Chickamauga Lock
Story by Mark Rankin
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – A group of officials from the Ministry of Transportation in Beijing toured the Chickamauga Lock with U.S. Army Corps of Engineer personnel from the Nashville District April 25, 2013. The visit was coordinated through USACE headquarters to build capacity, transfer knowledge and technology through briefings and build alliances that will help improve China’s major locks and navigational waterways for the Yangtze River.
The Yangtze River is one of China’s largest and most frequently traveled rivers and during the brief said they are interested in modeling the building and management of their rivers much like ones the Corps manages in the United States.
Jamie James, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Nashville District project manager for Chickamauga Lock and Tennessee Valley Authority’s Lana Bean, manager of operations evaluation river scheduling and river operations, welcomed the team and briefed them on Corps history, processes, maintenance, status of current construction at Chickamauga Lock and answered questions.
“They are really interested in how we maintain, build and preserve our locks and dams,” said James.
“They have asked some great questions and we’re glad they chose to visit Chickamauga for reference,” said James.
James said one of their group’s primary interests was how the Corps and TVA worked as inter-agencies and the processes they used to maintain the locks.”
XU Gang, China’s Chief Engineer of Ministry of Transportation, said through a translator, that he and his team are delighted to the opportunity to gain valuable waterway knowledge about the massive structure and looks to use the information upon his return home.
“I hope our relationship continues because we have been able to share much valuable information that will help us with our vital waterways,” said Guang.
During the visit, Lt. Col. Patrick Dagon, Nashville District deputy commander, led a tour of the existing lock and view the partially completed new lock where a coffer dam was recently completed but refilled as the project stalled, Dagon says it was a great for our USACE District to host the delegation and provide critical information that will help them improve their waterway situations overseas.
“This is a great example to show them how we partnership with the TVA and instead of talking about it in the abstract we had a representative here to discuss and answer questions along side of James,” said Dagon.
Before leaving, the delegation expressed interest as becoming international partners on mutual water resources.
XU Gang, China’s chief engineer of Ministry of Transportation extended an invitation for a USACE team to visit China in the future and discuss water resource similarities.
In 1940, TVA completed construction of Chickamauga Lock and Dam.
It is a single chamber lock measuring 60-by-360 feet. The lock has experienced structural problems resulting from concrete alkali aggregate reaction between the alkali in the cement and the rock aggregate, which results in a physical expansion of concrete structures.
With significant annual maintenance, Chickamauga Lock has frequent and lengthy lock outages as a result of downtime for repairs.
Up to now, Corps maintenance crews have kept the lock open as the concrete continues to expand and hinder operations. But the Nashville District may eventually reduce the lock’s availability to users or even close it permanently as the lock continues to deteriorate.
Even with costly advanced maintenance procedures, the concrete expansion threatens the structural integrity of the lock and limits its life span.
The lock may be have a bothered by pesky alkali aggregate, deterioration and maintenance issues, but the massive structure has a way of instructing engineers about structure stability, durability and the value of our waterways.