US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District Website Website

Dam Bridge & Gate Painting – Lower St. Anthony Falls through Lock and Dam 10

Published Feb. 26, 2015
Updated: April 16, 2020

To extend the life expectancy of each gate, proper maintenance is required. The gates are past the paint life and are in need of painting.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District operates and maintains 13 locks and dams from Upper St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Lock and Dam 10 in Guttenberg, Iowa.


Each lock and dam is a critical step in the "stairway of water" that makes navigation possible between Minneapolis and St. Louis, Missouri. The Corps constructed Locks and Dams 2 through 10 in the 1930s, and the aging sites include a dam bridge and varying numbers of dam gates. The gates are critical components because they control pool elevation for navigation, flood control and environmental purposes.

Typically, the gates are partially submerged in flowing water and subjected to intense abrasion from sediment and debris. This continuous abrasion degrades the paint systems, contributing to significant corrosion and consequently an escalating backlog of repairs.


The life expectancy of modern paint systems ranges from 15 to 25 years.

Locks and Dams Status of When Last Painted
Site Location Length (ft) Last Painted
LSAF Minneapolis 168 1985
2 Hastings 570 1987
3 Red Wing 320 1988
4 Alma 990 2002
5 Minneiska 1,200 1978
5A Winona 575 1982
6 Trempealeau 750 2005
7 Dresbach 715 1995
8 Genoa 680 1991
9 Lynxville 610 1992
10 Guttenberg 560 1980

The St. Paul District has been unable to award a painting contract for many years because of funding constraints. The Corps has prepared Lock and Dam 5 plans and specifications.


The project was authorized as part of the Rivers and Harbors Act approved July 3, 1930.


Protecting the Nation’s investment of inland waterways infrastructure through preventive maintenance is prudent and cost effective, particularly when replacement costs are considered.

  • Average cost to paint and repair corroded gates is estimated at $14.5 million per site.
  • Average cost to replace gates is $100 million per site.