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New Quad Cities crane barge has advantages over predecessor

The 300-foot long barge supports a nearly 200-foot high crane. That crane can lift 1,000,000 pounds, and will pick up gates at locks along the Mississippi River.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Over the last few days, a large crane barge was docked along the Mississippi River in Davenport. 

That heavy-lift crane plays a big role along the Mississippi River for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Rock Island District.

RELATED: Crane barge christened in Davenport

Mike McKean gave us a tour of the 300-foot long barge, that supports the nearly 200-foot tall crane.

"The main purpose of this crane, this heavy lift crane, is to do work at the locks and dams up and down the Mississippi," said McKean.

Those locks and dams help more than 60,000 commercial barges pass through the Quad Cities region each year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That crane only works right with other tools on board.

"We can go out to the river and kinda spud down so to say, again they're kinda like stiff leg anchors that hold us in place," said Tony, one of the engineers on the barge.

Tony said the barge is powered by two generators. The barge can also purposefully take on water if the job requires.

"I can use as a counterweight for the crane or I can use them to submerge the barge to a three foot draft to get us underneath high water," Tony said.

That is important, because this new crane barge can now go during high water where the previous Quad Cities crane barge, which was in use for more than three decades, couldn't go, according to Keith Senkbeil, the barge maintenance supervisor.

"We can be folded down, ready to move in about 30 minutes," Senkbeil said.

Senkbeil oversees the new barge, and said the new crane has even more advantages over its predecessor.

"This one is much stronger, it has a further reach, and this is going to change the way we’ve done stuff historically," said Senkbeil.

The barge is pushed by the motor vessel "Quincy," which is rated for 3,000 horsepower, according to Jared, the chief engineer on board. That vessel can travel at about seven or eight miles per hour, depending on where the boat is heading, Jared said.

All of these new improvements are helping this floating crane reach its next big project.

RELATED: Watch: A glimpse of the bottom of the Mississippi River in drained Lock 14

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