HeartLand Boating first outlined the reduction of lock service on the Ouachita River in our June issue (see “Locks in Danger” in Waterlines). Now, the Waterways Council Inc., the national public policy organization that advocates for a properly funded and well-maintained system of inland waterways, has reported that the Corps of Engineers has implemented a cost-saving policy that will further reduce service at some 63 locks on the Allegheny, Kaskaskia and Ouachita waterways as well as the upper reaches of the Cumberland, Monongahela, Allegheny and Mississippi rivers.
The policy states that only locks with 1,000 or more commercial lockages per year will still be operated 24 hours (or three shifts) a day seven days a week. Inland locks handling between 500 and 1,000 commercial lockages annually will be in service for only two shifts per day. Locks recording between 100 and 500 commercial lockages per year will operate with only one daily shift. Those locks with less than 100 annual lockages will have future service only by appointment (“scheduled service”) or face closure.
The new policy could considerably impact the travel of recreational as well as commercial vessels. In fact, according to one report, 38 of the affected locks already have reduced hours of service. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.