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Locks 27 on the Chain of Rocks Canal

All Together Now

If any project needed the precision and discipline of a military maneuver, it’s Locks 27 on the Chain of Rocks Canal, located in Granite City, Illinois. Locks 27 is the busiest set of locks on the Upper Mississippi River, annually locking through more than 70 million tons of commodities and acting as the access point to the Upper Mississippi River as well as the Illinois River. The locks are at the transition point where the Mississippi River changes from a lock-controlled system of pools to the north and the open river that runs south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The navigation industry depends on locks and dams to keep goods moving efficiently. Locks 27 operates two chambers to pass barge tows and other vessels. The main chamber is 1200 feet long and can pass an entire 15-barge tow in one operation. The auxiliary chamber is 600 feet long, which makes it necessary to break 15-barge tows into two sections for locking.

Faced with an aging facility that had served the country for more than 50 years, The U.S. Corps of Engineers St. Louis District hired Midwest Foundation Corporation to replace outdated lift gate machinery and counterweights on both the main and auxiliary chambers. Midwest chose Wissehr as the electrical contractor.

In addition to providing system integration, Wissehr furnished and installed the new motors, variable frequency drives, controls, computers, programmable logic controllers and the fiber-optic backbone ethernet. In addition, Wissehr interconnected the main lock auxiliary lock.

The three partners – the Corps of Engineers, Midwest Foundation Corporation and Wissehr Electrical Contractors – worked well together, communicating and planning throughout the project. Wissehr proposed many timesaving initiatives, efficiency measures and value-engineering techniques.

Now that the repairs and updates have been successfully completed, Locks 27 can continue to serve the nation by delivering vital goods and services.

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