Cycle Construction recently played a key role in a project designed to help vessels access and navigate a busy channel in Empire, LA. Performing as a subcontractor to Kiewit-Pittman JV on this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (USACE) project, the family-owned company was tasked with removing a 105-ton floodgate. Having weathered decades of storms and tides, the old floodgate – which lay under water when not closed – was damaging the bottoms of passing vessels in the channel. In 2017, Kiewit-Pittman completed construction of a new structure and gate, making the remaining old structure both obsolete and a hazard.
Located in Plaquemines Parish, Empire is the third largest seafood port in the United States, by weight and value. The community is also home to one of the world’s largest fishmeal (pogie) processing facilities. Fishmeal and fish oil are processed for use in aquaculture, pet foods, and animal feeds. Pogie season starts in early April and large pogie ships use the channel to access the processing plant. In addition to the floodgate project, the USACE was making improvements to Empire’s lock system. Both projects required closing the waterway to commercial traffic. Fourteen days was the timeframe allowed for the work.
“A lot was at stake with this project,” says Cycle project manager Andrew Lamastus. “Time was money, but we planned out every step and prepared for every possible problem.”
Cycle created a work schedule consisting of multiple shifts, 24 hours per day, for 14 days. In the event of any problems, the team incorporated some contingency. The entire project was performed from the water and depended greatly on the skills and steely nerves of a specialty diving team, along with the operators of cranes that were perched atop barges. Submerged for several days with zero visibility, the divers first cut the bolts that held floodwall hinges in place. The level of risk increased as the gates remained in place, but unbolted.
“The worst thing that could happen would be for the gate to start moving,” Lamastus says. To prevent any movement until the last hinge was removed, a crane on a barge secured the gate.
When the 210,000-lb floodgate was ready for removal, a large derrick crane barge lifted the giant piece in one heavy move. The gate was then placed on a material barge, destined for an upriver scrap metal yard and, ultimately, recycled.
To ensure that all pieces were removed and the area safe for commercial vessels, a sonar scan was used scour the depths for any remnants. The project was finished safely, four days ahead of schedule.
Here are some photos from the project site:
Since 1972, Cycle Construction has been delivering top quality heavy civil and marine construction projects in Louisiana and through-out the Gulf South. Our business is based on relationships. We build trusted partnerships with our clients, so that we might better understand their vision. This collaboration allows us to provide customized operations and turnkey solutions that exceed client expectations. You can read some of our client testimonials here.