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Lock and Dam Number 52 facts for kids

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Lock and Dam Number 52
Locks and Dam Number 52.png
Location Illinois/Kentucky border
Coordinates 37°07′20″N 88°39′22″W / 37.1221°N 88.6560°W / 37.1221; -88.6560Coordinates: 37°07′20″N 88°39′22″W / 37.1221°N 88.6560°W / 37.1221; -88.6560
Opening date 1928


Closed September 2018
Operator(s) United States Army Corps of Engineers logo.svg United States Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Wicket
Impounds Ohio River
Length 2,998 feet
Reservoir
Normal elevation 302 feet above sealevel

Lock and Dam 52 was the 19th lock and dam on the Ohio River. It is 939 miles downstream of Pittsburgh and 23 miles upstream from the confluence of the Mississippi with the Ohio.

The lock complex was completed in 1929.

According to the New York Times, in 2015 80.2 million tonnes of cargo transitted the lock, making it the biggest and most economically important, in the United States. In a profile of the lock the New York Times called the lock a "serious bottleneck", causing delays of 15 to 20 hours. Annually, 135 million tonnes of cargo pass through the lock.

There are 2 locks for commercial barge traffic, one that is 1,200 feet long by 110 feet wide, the other is 600 feet long by 110 feet wide. Olmsted Lock and Dam is intended to replace lock and dam 52 and nearby lock and dam 53. According to the New York Times, the Olmsted project was scheduled to have been completed in 1998 (although the locks should have been replaced in 1988, since locks have an expected lifespan of approximately 50 years). In November 2016, the New York Times reported the Olmsted project was then scheduled to be complete in October 2018. The project's cost had ballooned from $775 million to $2.9 billion. By October 2017, the project was scheduled to be completed by 2024.

The New York Times reports that the US Army Engineers, the Federal agency responsible for maintaining navigation on the USA's rivers, the delay in replacing the lock complex with the Olmsted project costs $640 million per year. It has been described as an “emblem of America’s crumbling river infrastructure.”

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