The Kentucky River is regulated by a series of 14 dams and locks located along its 255 mile length. The facilities, ranging in age from 96 to 177 years old, were originally constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the purpose of creating navigation pools for commercial traffic. Today, the Kentucky River Authority (KRA) operates and maintains the system. Traffic on the river consists of recreational boating with the primary mission being to protect and improve water quality while ensuring water supply to Central Kentucky even in times of drought.
With the aged lock and dam system, efforts are underway to achieve this mission. We have provided geotechnical support for the past 20 years in the assessment, renovation and long-term planning of the entire Kentucky River system. We performed assessments of 12 of the 14 facilities to support short-term repair and to prioritize future replacement. We also designed and oversaw major renovations of 3 dams and 4 locks using innovative in-the-wet approaches. Our work has served to protect Central Kentucky’s water supply for the future while providing boaters the ability to navigate along the Ohio River to Frankfort, Kentucky.