We’ve all heard stories about boats being able to travel the distance of the Lower Fox River from Green Bay to Lake Winnebago. In order to do this, they had to go through a series of 17 locks (see map). But by the early 1980’s, the river was used less and less by industry and for transport, and the locks closed in 1984.
In 2004, ownership of the locks was transferred from the Army Corps of Engineers to the state of Wisconsin and the Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA) was formed to oversee restoration, management and operation of the locks. Since then, the FRNSA has been working to repair the locks and bring them back into operation.
OMNNI is working closely with the FRNSA to provide engineering oversight for restoration of the locks for recreational and some commercial use. This project is unique because it’s not just replacing old parts with new parts. All the locks have been placed on the National and State Register of Historic Places, and as such, they need to be restored back to their original state.
To-date 11 locks along the Lower Fox River have been repaired and opened. Five locks in Kaukauna will be fully opened in 2016. One is permanently closed and is planned to include a boat lift.
Restoration of the Lock-Tender Houses
In addition to restoration of the locks, OMNNI’s architects also provided services for repairs to the exterior of eight lock-tender houses originally constructed between 1892 and 1927. Located between Menasha and De Pere, the houses were once year-round residences for the lock tenders, but with the closure of the lock navigational system, they remained vacant for 30 years. Weather, vandalism and disuse contributed to their deterioration.
OMNNI provided architectural and structural design services to properly enclose the houses to stop further deterioration and vandalism. The project included repairs to the roof, exterior walls, and foundations. The houses were painted and security systems installed. Hazardous materials, lead, mold and asbestos abatement was completed. All repairs conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The preservation of the lock-tender houses won a 2010 Wisconsin Builder Top Project award.
Learn more about the Restoration of Fox Locks here
Learn more about Tim Bolwerk, PE, OMNNI’s Project ManagerShare: