Chickamauga lock renovation continues - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chickamauga lock renovation continues

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Those living near the Chickamauga Dam will hear some big booms soon. 

The explosions will signal the long awaited replacement of the lock at the Chickamauga Dam.

The new phase of the project will allow crews to blast the existing lock and below the dam through controlled blasts. 

The Chickamauga lock has been under construction for 11 years. Construction restarted in 2015 after years of delays. Funding has been a key factor with the total project cost estimated at more than $850 million dollars, but blasting company KESCO, Inc. is ready to complete the next phase. 

"This type of construction environment, this type of sensitive environment if you will; urban environment, we're comfortable with and we've been doing an awful long time," said President of KESCO, Daniel Conn. 

Conn says it took five months for his company to be hired onto the Chickamauga lock project. 

In a brief public meeting Tuesday, he explained the company's blasting plan in order to build a deeper and wider lock chamber. 

"The United States Army Corps of Engineers put together a 38 page set of appropriate specifications for blasting on this project and we are very much in agreement," said Conn. 

The company is limited to one blast per day totaling up to 100 throughout the project.

Blasting is allowed on Monday through Saturday during daylight hours except for heavy traffic hours on Highway 153 between 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM and afternoons between 3:00 PM and 5:30 PM. No blasting is allowed on Sundays.

Conn says they are working to standardize blast times so that blasting occurs between 11:30 AM and 11:55 AM during the week if operational cycles and weather permits. 

Traffic on the river will not be allowed closer than 1,500 feet. It is possible that traffic on TN 153 may not be interrupted, except for the initial testing phase of the project. In that case Conn says traffic should only be interrupted for 15 to 20 minutes. 

If traffic has to be stopped crews will make sure drivers are at least 500 feet away from the blasting site. Guards will also be posted to make residents remain 500 feet away from the blasting site. 

"Outside of the core owned facility and state route 153 there's nothing else in the community that's really impacted," said Conn.

Here's what you will feel and hear as a result to the blasts: 

Distance Equivalent to what you will feel Equivalent Sound
500 ft A nearby train Stadium Crowd 
1,000 ft A person walking on wood floors Balloon Popping
1,500 ft Nothing  Thunder
2,000 ft Nothing Far off Siren

Conn says the biggest concern from the community is damage from flying debris. 

"We were asked to ensure through our designs and through the use of blasting maths that we are not going to be ejecting debris during our blast and we have a plan in place to that's going to eliminate flying debris." 

Crews plan to start work in about two weeks. Conn says the company has 10 to 12 months to complete the blasting phase. However, he says the goal is to complete it by the third quarter (July - September) of next year. 

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