Lock and Dam 52 on Ohio River to be demolished soon

MASSAC COUNTY, IL — People living in McCracken County, Kentucky, and Massac County, Illinois, may start hearing loud noises within the next few weeks. That’s because Lock and Dam 52 on the Ohio River is set to be demolished.

In a news release, the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department said contractors are waiting for river levels to drop and stabilize. Once that happens, the demolition will begin and could take two years to complete. The sheriff’s department said the contractors “will likely blast every weekday (river levels permitting) at noon once work begins. All river traffic will be closed at least two hours prior to blasting, per safety procedures upstream to the Brookport Bridge.”

“We wanted to make everyone aware of the upcoming explosions and ask that everyone follow the request made by remaining out of the area in question for safety reasons during the times outlined,” the news release said.

The Brookport Police Department said they were told that the demolition will begin either at the end of June or the beginning of July, as soon as the water levels drop. They will have a police car at the boat landing when the work begins, so people will know to avoid the area.

Local 6 called the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get more details on the project, but we have not heard back.

The demolition will be done by C.J. Mahan Construction Company, based in Columbus, Ohio. The company has set up mobile offices at the work site, but an employee there said he could not comment. Local 6 called the company’s main number and left a message.

Built in 1928 and located 1.5 miles downstream of Brookport, Illinois, Lock and Dam 52 helped barges navigate the Ohio River from one water level to another. But No. 52 was deteriorating, costing millions to repair and hundreds of unscheduled closures. It was replaced by Olmsted Lock and Dam, which became operational in September.

Because of Lock and Dam 52’s long history, Brookport Alderwoman Debbie Workman said people will miss it.

“I know they will, because I can remember like when I first moved here. That was like 1984. And, you know, it was a place to go. Like, you can just go right down to the dam. You can ride your bicycles, take the kids up there,” said Workman. “You can just sit there and watch the boats go. You see all kinds of — all the time, you’d see people with kids running around, watching the boats and everything. People still talk about that.”

Workman said the city wants to acquire the 19 acres of land where the lock and dam is after the demolition is complete. City leaders believe that if the land is developed and used for things like grain elevators or businesses, it could be an economic boon.

“It would be a big, big help for Brookport. It will be like one of our main incomes, resources,” said Workman.

The city has already sent a letter of intent to show its interest in acquiring the land to lawmakers.

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