Thursday, June 6, 2013

The nation's busiest lock prepares to reopen for business

The nation's busiest lock prepares to reopen for business
By Mary Markos
St. Louis District Public Affairs

June 6, 2013

A crew at Locks 27, the nation's busiest locks, removed a temporary high-water dam today as they prepared to reopen for barge traffic.

The St. Louis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the locks June 3 as the Mississippi River level rose to 39 feet on the St. Louis gage, nine feet above flood stage. 

"This is the busiest lock on the inland waterway system, and the economics associated with river transportation is huge. This lock is the critical point on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers," said Andy Schimpf, St. Louis District navigation business line manager.

"This is the meeting point of the levees on either side of the Chain of Rocks Canal, and that is what makes the decision to remove the high water dam so complex,” Schimpf said. “The high water dam helps to remove risk to thousands of people living in the area. At the locks, we are balancing the needs of navigation and reducing flood risk."

Locks 27, located in Granite City, Ill., locks more than 70 million-tons of cargo a year, supporting a majority of the nation’s agricultural exports.

The locks are planned to reopen after the USCG reopens the five-mile portion of St. Louis Harbor that was closed to traffic due to high water.

For more information on Flood Fight Operations, visit   


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