Civil Design Branch

Nashville District
Published Jan. 9, 2024

The Civil Design Branch is responsible for providing engineering study and design services and engineering during construction services for the district and national customers.   The branch consists of four sections:  Geology; Electrical & Mechanical; Civil & Structural; and Soils & Dam Safety - which encompass almost all of the traditional engineering disciplines. 

Geology Section  - With professional geotechnical engineers and geologists and technicians on staff, the Geology Section is capable of investigating and analyzing and developing geotechnical recommendations and designs for solving almost any geotechnical issue that may present itself.     We are currently heavily involved in the Nashville District's dam remediation projects at Wolf Creek and Center Hill.  Through these projects we have obtained valuable experience and expertise related to managing and directing of subsurface investigations and mapping the results in a user friendly format.  We have also developed significant expertise in design and construction oversight of structure foundation development and treatment, including founding level determinations, grouting, and dental treatment and drainage measures.

The staff has performed construction materials studies to help resolve alkali-aggregate issues at Chickamauga Lock and has implemented rock testing programs and evaluated the feasibility of different construction methodologies.

Electrical and Mechanical Section - provides engineering design services to a variety of customers.  One of the most important customers is the District's Operations Division.  We help keep the District's critical infrastructure operational.  Our mechanical engineers and technicians have designed barge towing, lock and spillway gate operating machinery to replace, in some cases, decades old equipment that was well past its expected service life.   Electrical engineers have designed electrical power distribution systems, lock electrical feeder systems, and grounding and lightning protection systems in support of the District's operational projects. 

Currently the section is heavily engaged in the District's efforts to modernize our nine hydroelectric plants.  This work involves everything from inspection and evaluation of such electrical subsystems as transformers and governors to working with the Portland District's Hydroelectric Design Center on major rehabilitation efforts such as replacing turbine generators at various powerhouses. 

Civil  & Structural Section - is responsible for structural and general civil design of the District's Civil Works mission.  The section oversees design of steel and concrete features for navigation, multipurpose dams, hydroelectric plants and local flood protection projects.  The Section is an integral of the District's Dam and Levee Safety Program, inspecting and monitoring District projects.  

The section has designed portions of many of the major navigation projects built in the last 20 years. Designs have been prepared for portions of Bay Springs Lock, Melvin Price Locks and Dam, Grays Landing Lock, Robert Byrd Locks, McAlpine Lock, and Olmsted Locks.  We are currently preparing plans for the additional lock at Kentucky Lock and a replacement lock at Chickamauga Lock.  Additionally, we are designing reinforce concrete berm for the Center Hill Dam - Saddle Dam as part of the Dam Safety Modification of Center Hill Dam.    We have provided designs for local protection projects consisting of floodwalls, pump stations, gated closure structures, and drainage structures to protect critical infrastructure from flood events.

The Section supports the District's Operation Division in maintaining the navigation locks on both the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers; the dams on the Cumberland River; and several bridges owned by the District.

Soil Design & Dam Safety Section  - manages the District's Dam Safety and Levee Safety Programs and provides engineering design and evaluation of soil related features of structures including locks and dams, levees, river channels, roadways and building foundations.  We provide services to our own Operations Division, local city and county governments and other federal agencies.

The section has evaluated dams, levees, and embanks for stability, seepage, and settlement.  We have designed retaining structures such as cofferdams, mechanically stabilized earth walls, and anchored walls to support the District's civil works mission.  We have performed numerous subsurface geotechnical investigations and evaluated the field and laboratory test data to evaluate the section's Dam Safety Program Manager has been heavily engaged inspecting our Dams and Levees for reliability and safety.  The Program Manager coordinates staff training at all our projects and has developed emergency action plans and implementation procedures to protect the public during emergency events.  The safety and reliability of our dams is monitored by a comprehensive instrumentation program - which is being modernized with the latest measurement and communication technologies.  This modernization effort was spearheaded by the section's engineers and technicians.