A $17 million contract has been awarded by the Corps of Engineers St. Paul District to Kraemer North America, LLC, Burnsville, Minn., to complete tow rail rehabilitation projects at six Upper Mississippi River locks and dams.

The tow rail systems include travelling mooring bitts that speed upstream travel for 1,200’ tows through 600’ lock chambers. The travelling mooring bitt systems are located on upper guidewalls to help guide the upstream-bound tows out of the lock chamber.

Each system is comprised of an operating unit, rail, and traveling kevel or “mule.” Rehabilitating the tow rails “will promote efficient and safe passage for workers and long tows requiring multiple lockages,” according to Corps officials.

The contract will pay for construction at six locations:

  • Lock and Dam 4 near Alma, Wisc.
  • Lock and Dam 5 near Minnesota City, Minn.
  • Lock and Dam 5A near Fountain City, Wisc.
  • Lock and Dam 7 near La Crescent, Minn.
  • Lock and Dam 8 near Genoa, Wisc.
  • Lock and Dam 9 near Eastman, Wisc.

Construction will take place in winter 2019 and 2020, during the non-navigation season.

The tow rail systems are integral to the operation of the upper river locks, Mississippi River locks and dams 2 through 10. It is attached to the top of the lock guidewall and helps guide tows through the lock chamber.

All the systems have been deteriorating for several years, and two failures at Lock 7 showed there had to be a project to address serviceability and safety issues, Corps officials say. Interim repairs at Lock 7 were completed in 2014 and the new project aims to permanently repair each lock’s tow rail system.