Engineers Assess New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam

As contractors continue to move forward on four of Savannah Harbor Expansion Project’s (SHEP) environmental mitigation projects, a small team this week made headway on another front – the proposed fish passage near Augusta.

Engineers and divers inspected the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, November 15 and 16, as part of an annual inspection and continuation of the design phase of the fish passage.

The fish passage will compensate for impacts the SHEP will have on the Shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon. The pool behind the current structure, which provides public recreation and supply intakes for a dozen large industries and municipalities, will provide flows through the fish passage.

“The structure is just in bad shape,” said Lucia Newberry, Dam Safety program manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District.

The nearly 80-year-old lock and dam was constructed to assist commercial navigation from the mouth of the Savannah River to Augusta but fell into a “caretaker” status in 1979 because barge traffic largely ceased.

According to Beth Williams, SHEP technical lead, that status places it at a lower priority to receive funding for maintenance and repairs.

While the fish passage project remains in the design phase, construction should start in late 2018 or early 2019.

It must start before or run concurrent with inner harbor dredging, according to Spencer Davis, senior project manager for SHEP.

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