McHENRY – The 75-year-old gates at the McHenry dam will be replaced as part of a $16.7 million improvement project.
The project also includes extending the Stratton boat lock downstream to double its capacity and rehabilitating the berm on the west side of the Fox River to fix erosion problems, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Construction site preparation has begun with major work to start this winter after the boating season ends, said department spokesman Chris Young. The project is expected to wrap up by November 2016.
The work should not impact the 16,930 boats that pass through the lock each year or water levels, Young said.
Fishing access will be available from the Moraine Hills State Park outside of the construction fences, and the lock and dam itself will be closed to visitors as construction begins.
Boaters will be warned of areas to avoid, and information is being posted to the Fox Waterway Agency's website at www.foxwaterway.state.il.us.
The Stratton boat lock, which was constructed in 1960, will be extended during nonboating season, from Nov. 1 to April 30, and will remain operational during boating season, a news release said. The extension will reduce wait times during high traffic periods.
The dam's current gates will remain operational while the new gates are constructed, the release said. The replacements were sized to match the current capacity as to eliminate any impact on flooding along the Fox River.
The project is being funded with capital funds available for dam safety and improvement projects.