EMSEAL Goes Deep on Expansion Joints for Massive Port Allen Lock Project
Imagine having to replace and install expansion joints in a massive public works structure with a very small window of time to complete the job. A temporarily drained river lock with concrete walls rising over six stories tall, a bottom bed as wide as half the width of an NFL football field, and four weeks to complete the project before the 90-ton doors reopen to let the Mississippi river water flow back in, was the challenge facing the crews working on the Port Allen (LA) Lock in the summer of 2009.
Built and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Port Allen Lock is a crucial connection of shipping traffic between the Mississippi river and the Intercoastal Waterway just west of Baton Rouge, LA. In 2009 it was determined that, due to leak-induced water-related subsidence, the 22 runs of expansion joints (each over 300 feet long) had to be replaced. The plan was to drain the lock and leave it closed for repairs during a four week period. The substantial effect on shipping traffic was secondary to the need to stop the erosion and leaking at the Lock.
Python Corporation of Lacombe, LA was contracted to replace the expansion joints. They contacted EMSEAL with an immediate request for over 6,700 feet of EMSEAL’s DSM to be used as the surface-seal and a containment barrier for an injected polyurethane grout system. The sealing performance of DSM acrylic-impregnated preformed foam was the determining factor in choosing this product to replace the existing failed caulking. But sealing performance had to also work with the project constraints requiring quick installation and availability of product.
The DSM System, as well as all other EMSEAL preformed foam sealants, is able to be put in place quickly because its non-invasive installation design utilizes the foam’s backpressure to firmly hold the DSM in place within the joint gap. The substrate is simply re-smoothed, cleaned and prepared with an epoxy adhesive and the DSM System is then installed into the gap.
EMSEAL also had to meet a quick engineering and production timetable to work within the four week installation period. EMSEAL’s large manufacturing plant focused their output on quickly turning out the sizable quantity of DSM. Because there were variations of widths within the gaps throughout the Lock, each length was manufactured at a predetermined width and labeled for specific locations to make the installation move as quickly and correctly as possible.
The entire project proved to be a great success. The complete DSM order was manufactured and delivered on time and the installation went quickly enough to finish ahead of the Army Corps of Engineers’ schedule. The Port Allen Lock project illustrates EMSEAL’s unique suitability and popularity in large public works projects.