The most expensive inland waterway project in U.S. history is set to open later this year.
A ceremonial ribbon cutting at the Olmsted Locks and Dam in southern Illinois is scheduled for Thursday.
Antoinette Gant is commander of the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She says they're replacing two old dams and replace it with one. Gant says this means passage through Olmsted on the Ohio River should be reduced from five hours to less than one.
"You'll see significant progress in time for them to actually go from the Ohio River down to the Mississippi, or even up toward the upper end of the Ohio River."
Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Operations Manager Waylon Humphrey says this massive project stretches about 970 miles down the Ohio River.
"Olmsted Locks and Dam will impound water all the way up to Smithland Locks and Dam, which is up above Paducah, as well as into the tail waters of the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River."
Congress first approved funds for the project in 1988.
Earlier this year, the estimated cost of the 30-year project stood at just under three billion dollars. But, the corps says it's expected to pay for itself in five years at an annual benefit of 640-million dollars.
The ribbon cutting is set for Thursday at 10 a.m. The new locks and dam is set to officially open in late October.