Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gate lift at RCByrd, Part 2

It's not unusual for the Army Corps of Engineers repair fleet to lift lock gates out of the river for repair work. It is unusual for me to be invited to come along and watch. Which is what I did last week.

I've already posted some. Here are a few more, with more to come in the next few days. Posting may be sporadic, as I have a full plate between now and Saturday night, but I'll get to them as I can.

Here, the spreader bar is lying in a parking lot and about to be lifted by the big huge crane that will in about an hour or so lift one of the lock gates.

Here's the spreader bar about to do its work.

The crane, known as the Henry J. Shreve, was so big that I couldn't get it in one photo unless I stood way back,.

Eye thingies have been welded to the gate leaf so the crane can lift it. Sorry, but "thingy" is the best I can do right now.

Watching and waiting to do their parts.

Cutting off the arm that swings the gate open and closed.

Next: the actual lifting of the gate.

Catching up on the news

Here's an opinion piece on the redevelopment of the riverfront at Owensboro, Ky.

As is my usual rule with opinion pieces, I pass along ones that might be of interest to blog readers. Linking to an opinion piece does not imply my endorsement of the opinions it contains.


In parts of West Virginia and Ohio, the development of gas and liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields is a big topic of economic discussion. While a lot of people think of the natural gas from these fields, a number of companies are just as interested in the byproducts that come from the wells -- liquids that can be sold as feedstocks to chemical plants or for other uses.

That's where the Ohio River comes into play. Check out the lead in this story from the Herald-Star of Steubenvile, Ohio:

WEIRTON - A tanker barge loaded with a million gallons of natural gas liquids from a tank farm in the Half Moon Industrial Park is on its way to Houston - a "significant milestone" in the Weirton port's development, officials said Thursday.

I've done pieces on how crude oil from the Utica shale in Ohio will be shipped by barge to the Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery at Catlettsburg, Ky. As coal deals with its problems, it looks like liquids from shale gas wells will take up some of the slack in the Ohio River shipping industry.


A bill has been introduced in Congress to designate the Fish and Wildlife Service as the lead agency to stop the spread of Asian carp on the inland waterways -- in this specific case, to keep them from reaching Pittsburgh.

The last I heard, they had made it up the Ohio River in significant numbers as far as the Markland Locks and Dam, although individual specimens have been found at places farther up the river.


The governors of Ohio and Kentucky are to meet next week to figure out how to get it done, namely upgrading the Brent Spence Bridge at Cincinnati. One of the big holdups seems to be whether there will be tolls placed on the bridge to pay for or help pay for the work. Ohio Gov. John Kasich says tolls are necessary and would be used only to pay for the construction work. When the work is paid for, the tolls will go away, he says. People in northern Kentucky don't like the idea of putting tolls on the bridge.

I'll admit I don't know enough about Cincinnati traffic to have an opinion. But I would have some questions if I lived in that area or traveled through it frequently:

How much would the tolls be? Would traffic go around the tolled bridge and use others? What would that do to congestion on those bridges? And how could people be sure the tolls would go away? Once construction is paid for, would the tolls be kept on the bridge and be used to pay for its maintenance?

West Virginia has a turnpike that was built years ago. Its tolls pay for its maintenance and upkeep, and because of that the Turnpike is not eligible for certain funding sources that pay for maintenance and repair of other high-volume roads in the state. Putting tolls on a bridge is a complicated question that requires a lot of thought before any answers are given.