Kentucky Lock Addition Fact Sheet

Kentucky Lock

Kentucky Lock Addition

Description: The Water Resources Development Act of 1996 authorized The Kentucky Lock Addition project, located at Tennessee River Mile 22.4 in western Kentucky. The project consists of a new 110-foot x 1200-foot lock to be located landward and adjacent to the existing 110-foot x 600-foot lock, which will be used as an auxiliary lock. Due to delays experienced and projected at the existing Kentucky Lock, a 1992 Feasibility Study recommended the addition of the new larger lock. In addition to the new lock, other major project features include a new two-lane bridge for U.S. Highway 62, and a single-track bridge for the P&L Railway, Inc. across the Tennessee River just below the dam. Five additional secondary bridges related to the relocation of Highway 62 and the P&L Railway, the relocation of four-east bank existing TVA transmission towers, and the construction of four more towers on the powerhouse island. Numerous other utility relocations, environmental mitigation features, and enhanced tail-water fishing access as mitigation for closure of TVA’s Taylor Park Campground are necessary.

Background: Kentucky Lock, completed in 1945, is the lowermost lock on the Tennessee River and is the gateway for the 12 locks located upstream on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Products with origins or destinations in 20 states pass through the system of Kentucky and Barkley Locks. Over 80% of the commercial tows hauling these products pass through Kentucky Lock instead of Barkley Lock because of difficult and costly navigation on the Cumberland River below Barkley Lock. Since most of the tows are greater than 600 feet in length, they must perform a time-consuming “double lockage” to transit through the existing 600-foot Kentucky Lock. This results in average delays of four to over six hours per tow in the last five years, the highest of any lock in the Ohio River System. Since the traffic levels are expected to grow in the near future, these delays will also increase. From 1997 to 2008 annual tonnage passing through the Kentucky-Barkley system has ranged from 35 to 43 million tons. Recent traffic forecasts indicated that tonnage levels would range from 51.8 and 54.9 million tons by 2020. It costs a tow well over $400 per hour wait at the lock. Construction of a new 1200-foot lock will eliminate the delay time in the near term and drastically shorten it for the forecasted levels past the year 2020. An additional regional benefit will be the creation of over 500 construction jobs during peak construction.

Without a new lock in place, delays at the existing lock are expected to average 8 ½ hours per tow by 2020 resulting in an increased transportation cost in excess of $24M per year. Average annual benefits attributed to a new lock are $70M (Oct 03 dollars). Based on an estimated construction cost of $734.5M and expenditures through FY2009 the new lock has a remaining benefit-to-remaining cost ratio of 3.7 to 1 and a benefit-to-cost ratio of 2.5 to 1, both at an interest rate of 7%.

The project is cost-shared 50/50 with the Inland Waterway Trust Fund. The total project cost is estimated to be $734.5M with an assumed completion date of 2016, the earliest expected opening of the new lock for traffic, but this will require substantial funding levels for each year through 2016. At reduced funding levels, the project’s completion date would be extended accordingly. Delays beyond 2016 will increase this cost estimate. Construction on this project commenced in July 1998. Kentucky Lock has already slipped its completion date by 9 years resulting in greater than $200M in transportation benefits foregone. Further delays will result in additional navigation benefits foregone. Approximately $272M was expended through FY2009, leaving a balance of $462.5M to complete the project. As of November 2009 the project is 38% complete. The Kentucky Lock was appropriated $22.33M in the FY2009 Omnibus Appropriation Act. Funding allocations provided through FY2009 are $279M.

Current Work: FY2010 funding of $0.945M is being used to continue the existing $100M Bridges Superstructure Contract. The Superstructure contractor substantially completed the P&L Railway Bridge and U.S. Highway 62 Bridge over the Tennessee River in FY2009. Transition of the railroad and highway to their new alignments is planned for the fall of 2009.

Status: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will provide $58.0M to complete lock design, complete remaining construction work on the $100M Superstructure Contract, and fund the next lock construction contract, the Upstream Lock Monoliths. Without an immediate solution to the insolvency of the Inland Waterway Trust Fund, construction is expected to be suspended at the completion of ARRA funded contracts (early in FY2012) and will not resume for possibly more than a decade.