Chicago Harbor and Lock


The Rivers and Harbors Acts of 1870, 1880, 1912, 1919, and 1962.


The project consists of Chicago Lock facilities, four outer breakwater reaches (2,250 feet of uncapped timber crib structures; 5,321feet of concrete capped timber crib structures; 3,759 feet of laid-up stone structures; and 1,185 feet of concrete caisson structures) and two inner breakwater reaches (6,882 feet of concrete capped timber crib structures) that protect Navy Pier, Chicago Lock, Chicago Water Filtration Plant, Monroe St. Harbor, Grant Park and other facilities from damage due to storms. It includes an entrance channel 800 ft. wide at -29.0 ft. (Low Water Datum) LWD and an outer harbor area at -28.0 ft. LWD. The channel to the mouth of the Chicago River is at -21.0 ft. LWD.


There were two main construction projects awarded in 2019.  The first was the Chicago Lock North Pier reconstruction project. This project was awarded to Integrated Environmental Solutions, Inc. in September 2019. This project is intended to provide stability to the existing crib structure for a portion of the North Pier. The current sheet pile wall on the river side is supported by tie rods that are corroding and tied to a failing tunnel structure, which require repair or replacement. This project is scheduled for completion by November 2020.

The second construction project is the lock chamber walls repair.  This project was awarded to Foundation Mechanics, LLC, in September 2019.  The Chicago Lock chamber walls, north and south walls, have experienced deterioration due to operation cycles of the lock, ice, and wear and tear from vessels traversing the lock. The Chicago Lock Wall resurfacing project will resurface approximately 280 feet of lock wall on the west side of the lock chamber with new steel plate panels.  The north and south lock walls will each receive approximately 140 feet of new steel plate panels.  This contract was terminated, and this work will be included in the new lock chamber walls contract and to be awarded by September 2021.

The Chicago Lock Wall repair project will resurface the lock walls within lock chamber with cast in place (CIP) concrete to replace the old deteriorated concrete. The existing concrete walls will be removed via controlled blasting or appropriate removal methods. Dowels will be installed within the new CIP concrete.  The wall resurfacing project started construction on Nov. 16, 2021 and will continue until April 14, 2024 - with the actual work and lock closure being from November 16 to April 14 of each year. 

The Chicago Lock Floor project will remove existing floor panels, drive anchor piles and then use tremie concrete to create a solid floor surface.  This design will be able to withstand the intense hydraulic forces and resist the loads that have caused the existing concrete panels to become dislodged and produce scour holes. The floor project will start construction on Nov. 16, 2024 and will continue until April 14, 2025. 

FY22 funds were provided to develop, design, and award a construction contract to repair various segments the Chicago Harbor breakwater, construction concrete cap at the North Pier, and repair and replace the gates operating machinery.  Award is scheduled for August 2023.