Thursday, September 20, 2012

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopens Locks 27

Barges waiting in queue at Locks 27 at the Chain of Rocks
near Granite City, Ill.
(U.S. Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River photo)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - St. Louis District reopened Locks 27 at the Chain of Rocks Canal after completing emergency repairs for safe navigation Thursday morning, enabling the U.S. Coast Guard to get traffic moving on the river again.

The Coast Guard, Corps of Engineers, and members of the river industry are jointly developing a priority list and vessel movement schedule for a quick and safe return to normal operations. It is estimated it will take 48 to 72 hours to clear the current queue of waiting tows.

At the time of the lock reopening there were 63 vessels and 455 barges in queue. That is equivalent to 26, 500 large semi-trucks.

The lock, near Granite City, Ill., was closed Saturday morning when Corps of Engineers crews discovered damage to one of the locks protection cells. The damage stemmed from additional wear on a non-armored section of the protection cell that is typically under 15- to 20-feet of water.

The Mississippi River is the main artery of the largest inland navigation system in the world with Locks 27 being the busiest of the locks on the river. More than 73 million tons of cargo moves through Locks 27 each year, and an unscheduled closure here can cost up to $2.8 million per day.

The Corps of Engineers facilitates commercial navigation by providing safe, reliable, highly cost-effective, and sustainable waterborne transportation systems. St. Louis District operates and maintains four locks on the Mississippi River and one on the Kaskaskia River in Illinois.

Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River is the largest Coast Guard Sector in the lower 48 states with an area of responsibility comprised of 11 states and 2,000 miles of commercially navigable waterways which constitute the upper portion of the Mississippi, the Illinois River, the Missouri river, and their tributaries. The waterway systems include over 33 locks and dams, 238 bridges and seven major population centers.

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