Army Corps awards $17M contract for lock, dam repairs

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a multimillion dollar contract to a Wisconsin company to repair five Mississippi River locks and dams in the region where western Wisconsin connects to southeastern Minnesota.

The agency awarded the $17 million contract to Kraemer North America LLC, the La Crosse Tribune reported. The civil contractor will replace deteriorating rails at the locks and dams near La Crosse and Winona, Minnesota.

"Safety is really one of the biggest reasons why we're doing this project," said Kimberly Warshaw, a project manager.

The Corps installed tow rails in the 1960s, when commercial shipping embraced longer boats and tows, according to Warshaw. The rails anchor and guide unpowered barges through lock chambers.

Failing tow rails can cause barges to drift or get pulled by currents toward dam gates, said Scott Snelling, the project's technical lead.

The project will replace tow rails at Wisconsin locks and dams near Alma, Fountain City, Genoa and Eastman. Minnesota locations include La Crescent and Minnesota City.

Patrick Loch, a spokesman for the Corps, said the construction will occur in the winter to avoid disrupting river traffic.

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com