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Olmsted Dam

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Olmsted Dam

Olmsted Dam is one of the largest civil works projects undertaken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and is located on the busiest stretch of U.S. commercial inland waterways. A Shimmick-led joint venture built this 2700-foot-long concrete dam across the lower Ohio River using innovative “in-the-wet” methods to minimize impacts to river traffic and the environment. The project also included construction of five 110-foot tainter gates, two boat abutments, a 1400-foot navigable pass section with boat-operated wicket gates, and related mechanical and electrical work.

Construction included producing 47 precast concrete shells, the largest of which weighed more than 4,996 tons. The shells, which are 100 feet wide, 100 feet long, and 30 feet tall, were lifted by a super gantry and moved to a cradle at the river’s edge. Once on the cradle, a catamaran barge in the river lifted the shells, transported them to their designation locations in the river, and lowered them into their respective foundation. Shells were set under water on a prepared bed, and then tremie concrete was pumped into the annulus area to form a continuous bond between the pipe piles, rebar, and surface shell.

Shimmick engineers and the on-site construction team created innovative solutions and utilized company-wide resources to finalize our means and methods in creative ways to manufacture the specialized equipment. Major innovations included:

  • One-of-a-kind equipment and methods for heavy lifting, pile driving, setting large concrete shells, and river bed protection.
  • Use of the largest gantry crane of its kind, able to lift 5,300 tons.
  • Use of a large-mounted Aqua Digger (one of only two in the world) to excavate at depths up to 85 feet in the river with 2-inch accuracy.
  • High level of accuracy with state-of-the-art sonar, real-time kinetic global positioning systems (GPS), and survey methods.

This project received the prestigious 2012 Nova Award from the Construction Innovation Forum for innovations in construction.

Project Details

Location:Olmsted, IL
Amount: $1.8B
Delivery Method:Bid-Build
Client Name:US Army Corps of Engineers
Duration: 2004-2020