Call to Order and Roll Call
The4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Friday, October 1, 2010, at 9:30 AM, at the Brown and Williamson Club at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, University of Louisville. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Senators David E. Boswell, David Givens, Jimmy Higdon, Brandon Smith, and Gary Tapp; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Linda Belcher, Tim Couch, Jim DeCesare, Melvin B. Henley, Tanya Pullin, Steve Riggs, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Fitz Steele, Jim Stewart III, and Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Guests: Colonel Keith Landry, Commander, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Louisville District; Gene Dowell, Operations Manager, Locks and Dams
Presentation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
Navigation: Critical to the Nation's Reinvestment Portfolio
Senator Harris introduced Colonel Keith Landry, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Louisville District. Colonel Landry stated that no district in the corps has dealt with locks and waterways longer the Louisville District. Colonel Landry said that the Louisville District was the site of the first navigation lock in the United States built by the corps. The three busiest locks in the nation are also in the Louisville district: Locks 52 and 53 and Smithland.
Colonel Landry said the USACE has a navigation center in the Huntington district that keeps traffic statistics on the Ohio River. The navigation center can track what products have come through any given lock. Twenty percent of the nations coal fired electricity is generated from Kentucky coal that moves through the locks on the Ohio.
Colonel Landry stated that the locks at McAlpine are the newest locks in the country. The Ohio River System supports 16,000 jobs in Kentucky. McAlpine has dual 1,200 foot locks, which allows the industry standard barge to go through the locks without having to break apart. The prior standard was a 600 foot lock. Within the whole lock system, the miter gates are the weak link. At McAlpine, the miter gates are 600 tons and 80 feet tall, but they are extremely frail in comparison to their size.
Colonel Landry stated that the USACE are working in conjunction with industry to expand the use of hydropower in the Kentucky Locks and dams. Currently, McAlpine, Markland, Greenup, Wolfe Creek, Laurel Lake and Lake Barkley are the only working hydropower facilities. Cannelton and Smithland will soon be working hydropower facilities. The amount of megawatts accrued from the hydropower at McAlpine is enough to light Paducah for a year.
Gene Dowell, Operations Manager spoke about the recent Markland Dam failure and repair. On September 27, 2009, a miter gate solenoid failed at Markland, which caused the main chamber to be inoperable. With the 1200 foot chamber out of service, the locking time was doubled. Through expedited delivery of a new gate, necessary repairs were able to be completed within six months. Industry suffered about $9.2 million because of the locking times being doubled and shipments not getting to destinations in a timely fashion.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked if there has been a redundancy built into the system to avoid future damage to the locks. Mr. Dowell stated that, as for the part that went bad at the Markland locks, the USACE contacted the manufacturers to find out what the lifespan of the parts would be so they can stay ahead of any breakage. The manufacturer did not identify a lifespan. They grease the equipment each month and have started doing in-depth checks of the materials.
Representative Pullin stated that it is so important to have two 1,200 foot chambers at all the major locks in the state because, when any of these chambers are out of service, commerce is affected.
Colonel Landry stated that the failure at Markland has caused the corps to start thinking about systems to be put in place in order to catch any problems that might occur before they get out of hand. Two new sets of locks are being constructed in the Panama canal, one on the Pacific and one on the Atlantic side of the canal. This includes the widening and deepening of existing navigational channels. With this expansion, larger vessels will be able to travel the canal, which allows more cargo. Cargo is more economical if it can travel further. The estimated cost of the expansion is $5.3 billion, which is expected to be recovered within 11 years.
Senator Harris asked if all the locks on the Ohio River within the Louisville district have the 1,200 foot chamber capability. Colonel Landry stated that not all the locks have 1,200 foot chamber locks. The only locks that have dual 1,200 foot locks are Smithland and McAlpine as well as Olmstead when that construction is completed. Locks 52 and 53 have both a 1,200 foot chamber as well as a 600 foot chamber. There is a planned expansion at JT Meyer that includes the installation of dual 1,200 foot chambers.
Representative Riggs asked if there is any recreational traffic at McAlpine. Colonel Landry stated that recreational traffic comes through the locks, but the numbers pale in comparison to the commercial traffic.
Representative Riggs asked if the $429 million that was used to expand McAlpine locks was all federal money. Colonel Landry stated that generally the navigation projects are financed 50-50, federal money and Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which comes from industry contributions.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked about the status of any vulnerability assessment projects on the Ohio River. Colonel Landry stated that there have been discussions with the Office of Homeland Security, and the corps has been working with Homeland Security to show where there are weak links in the system.
With no further business the meeting was adjourned.
After the meeting adjourned the members took a tour of the McAlpine Lock and Dam.