Kentucky Dam

The Kentucky Dam is an impoundment of the Tennessee River in Marshall and Livingston counties in western Kentucky.

The Kentucky Dam was authorized by an act of Congress on May 23, 1938 and construction began on July 1 by the Tennessee Valley Authority. 1 2 The Illinois Central Railroad (IC), which crossed just downstream of the dam, was rerouted to cross the top of the dam. Kentucky Dam, with a 110-foot by 600-foot lock, 3 was completed on August 30, 1944 at a cost of $118 million. 2

US 41 and US 62 were added in 1950.

Work began in 1998 on a larger 110-foot by 1,200-foot lock. 3 In late 2009, a new Polygonal Warren through truss bridge was constructed over the Tennessee River downstream from the dam, carrying the IC’s successor, the Paducah & Louisville Railway. US 62 was also diverted away from the dam on a new deck plate girder bridge at the same time. This allowed the bridges at the dam to be removed for the new lock.

It was not until Congress released funds from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund that actual construction of the locks began. 3 What had been on track for completion in 2040 is now set to open in 2023 at a cost of $874 million.

  • Total Length: 1,642 feet
  • Main Span Length: 80 feet
  • Deck Width: 28 feet
  1. “Kentucky.” Tennessee Valley Authority, 2017. Article.
  2. Tennessee Valley Authority, The Kentucky Project: A Comprehensive Report on the Planning, Design, Construction, and Initial Operations of the Kentucky Project, Technical Report No. 13 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951), pp. 1-12, 68, 115-116, 509.
  3. “New and Improved Kentucky Lock on the Way.” Tennessee Valley Authority, 2016. Article.

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