US Army Corps of Engineers doing major maintenance on Lock & Dam 4 in Alma

ALMA, Wis. (WKBT) – Lock & Dam 4 in Alma, WI is getting some extra TLC.

The US Army Corps of Engineers are dewatering the lock chamber.

By draining out all the water, crews can do extensive maintenance; including inspection and repairs of the concrete walls, miter gates, and bubbler system.

Rehabilitative work like this only happens about every 15 to 20 years.

Lock & Dam 4 was last dewatered in 2001.

And it’s not a cheap… or easy project.

The project’s manager said Tuesday the cost of this renovation is about $4.5 million.

And crews are on a tight timeline to get it done.

“The schedule for this project is from the time that navigation season closes, which is in early December, to when the navigation season opens, which is roughly mid-March. So you have a very set time when you have to start, and a set time when you have to finish. These guys work 24 hours a day,” said Joe Schroetter, project manager.

Did you know this lock is over 90 years old?

And believe it or not, it plays a key role in our nation’s economy.

6,000 barges and 10 million tons of commodities traveled through Lock 4 in 2020.

It’s just one of the St. Paul District’s 13 locks and dams from Minneapolis to Guttenberg, Iowa.

Industries making shipments within this district saved nearly $400 million by using the inland waterways instead of overland shipping methods.

Work is expected to be complete by March 9th, 2020.