Inland Navigation Design Center Taking Shape for Infrastructure Needs

Published July 9, 2015
This 3D model of Rock Island District’s Brandon Road Lock in Chicago, Illinois, developed by the INDC, is used during online webinars to illustrate operations and maintenance needs to Corps staff who have never seen the facility in real-life.

This 3D model of Rock Island District’s Brandon Road Lock in Chicago, Illinois, developed by the INDC, is used during online webinars to illustrate operations and maintenance needs to Corps staff who have never seen the facility in real-life.

On Jan. 15, 2013, the Chief of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, endorsed the creation of an Inland Navigation Design Center Mandatory Center of Expertise (INDC). The purpose of the new organization was to use in-house technical expertise in both the Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) and the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD) to deliver inland navigation projects. Expert resources from across the Corps could then be engaged if the workload demanded or specialization in specific areas were needed.

Since 2013, the Rock Island and Pittsburgh Districts have been working together to create the INDC and had the initial task of establishing an engineering regulation that outlined the official roles and responsibilities of the Center. It was determined that the INDC would design, provide review services and give general technical advice for navigation structures throughout the Corps of Engineers. Examples of navigation projects the INDC would assist with include agency technical reviews, miter gate inspections and designs, bulkhead recess design plans, major lock rehabilitation reports, risk assessments and value engineering studies.

The layout of the national Center includes geographic locations in both MVD and LRD with the Rock Island District taking the lead and additional offices located in the Pittsburgh District. The mission of the INDC is to provide engineering, design and review services for studies, new locks, new navigation dams, major rehabilitation of inland navigation locks and dams, and significant inland navigation lock and dam operations and maintenance projects. The overall goals of the INDC are to develop, maintain and strengthen technical competency and provide quality products and services.

Recently, significant changes to the Corps’ navigation infrastructure program has given the INDC a reason to move towards a more permanent organization. Funding for navigation projects around the country will soon become more readily available to the INDC when the Ohio River Olmsted Locks and Dam project is completed. In the near future an increase in waterway users’ tax could also generate an additional $70 million in available funding. In addition to these new funding sources, a new 20- year Capital Investment Strategy (CIS) is scheduled for completion in fiscal year 2015 that will provide a risk-based prioritized list of navigation infrastructure projects that the INDC will be looking to work on. The CIS should serve as the INDC’s workload for the next 20 years.

Projects the INDC has already provided design support for include the Charleroi and Kentucky Locks and the Brandon Road Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Project. During their work they also partner with other Corps of Engineers organizations including the Risk Management Center, the Engineering Research and Development Center, the Dam Safety Modification Mandatory Center of Expertise and the Planning Center of Expertise for Inland Navigation. Over the past two years the program has grown from $400,000 in fiscal year 2013 to over $2 million in fiscal year 2015.

In addition to becoming a new center of expertise, the INDC was also recently designated as the lead for the new Inland Navigation Design Community of Practice (INDCoP). The INDCoP will be used as a network for drawing virtual resources, obtaining and conveying lessons learned and best practices, and overall support for inland navigation design responsibilities. A collaboration site has been established on the internal USACE Technical Excellence Network at for members of the INDCoP.

 The INDC is led by director, Denny Lundberg, the previous chief of Rock Island District’s Engineering and Construction Division. A deputy director, Andy Harkness, the former chief of the Eastern Division Risk Management Center located in Pittsburgh District. Lundberg and Harkness were recently detailed to the INDC director positions to work fulltime on the standup up of the center. After permanent orders are established later this year, the director and deputy director positions will be advertised and competitively selected. Additional staff currently working for the INDC includes Fred Joers from the Rock Island District, Jeff Stamper from St. Louis District, Paul Surace from Pittsburgh District, and Larry Dalton from Louisville District who serve as technical managers. Additional staff may be added depending on future workload.