Army Corps Rehabilitating Lockport Canal Wall with American Recovery Act Funding

Published Oct. 24, 2009

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, awarded a $64,000,000 construction contract to Walsh Construction Company of Chicago for rehabilitation of the left descending Lockport Canal Wall.  The multi-year project is a high priority within the Corps and the Administration.  Construction is expected to be complete in December 2011.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, passed by the U.S. House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama on Feb. 17, 2009, provided the Rock Island District with $88,861,000 for continuing the rehabilitation work.  $42,907,942.76 of the $63,851,105.30 contract is being funded by the ARRA.


The Rock Island District, in coordination with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), is implementing a $110 million multi-year program to repair the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal embankments along the three-mile upper pool approach area to Lockport Lock and to rehabilitate the Lockport Controlling Works in Lockport, Ill.


The concrete Lockport Canal Wall is in an advanced state of deterioration that affects wall stability.  The wall was built in the 1890s and last significantly repaired in the 1920s.  Rehabilitation of the wall involves placement of new structural precast concrete panels along the existing canal face for approximately 2 miles.


Rehabilitation of the right descending Lockport Approach Dike was recently completed.  The dike was constructed in the early 1900s of a limestone, cement-core wall and non-homogeneous material that had deteriorated to the point where its function as a seepage cutoff was inadequate.  Bencor Corporation of America completed construction of a 4,300-foot slurry cut-off wall at a contract cost of $20,000,000.


Rehabilitation of the Lockport Controlling Works is in design with a construction completion scheduled in 2012.


The Lockport Lock and Dam structure is fully functional and meets all safety criteria.  The adjacent Lockport Pool Approach Dike and Walls were designated in 2005 as a Corps Dam Safety Action Classification II, which is defined as a dam that has confirmed (unsafe) or unconfirmed (potentially unsafe) safety issues.  This classification was given primarily due to seepage through the embankments that could threaten their integrity.  The probability of this type of failure is small; however, the consequences are high enough to warrant the $110 million rehabilitation project.


The Corps is in close coordination with local, state, and federal emergency action representatives to ensure any change in the integrity of the canal walls is immediately provided to potentially affected communities.




The project is located within a three-mile reach of the Lockport Lock Pool of the Illinois Waterway (river mile 291.0 - 294.0) at Lockport, Ill.  As part of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which extends from the Chicago River to the Illinois Waterway, the Lockport upper pool is a perched pool (38-feet above the surrounding area), with a roughly forty-five-foot-high embankment on the right descending bank and a concrete canal wall on the left descending bank.


The MWRD, through congressional action, transferred maintenance responsibilities of all pool retention structures to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1980s.  Due to a history of sinkholes and surface slumping, the Rock Island District has made significant improvements to the embankments' structural stability and erosion resistance with the addition of rock fill.  To prevent further sinkhole development, a shallow cutoff trench was constructed in the early 1990s and although it performed satisfactorily for nearly 11 years, sinkhole development resumed in 2001.

Release no. 10-10-03