A waterways group said Friday domestic bulk commodities shippers face “serious delays” for three months while a severely damaged lock on the Ohio River is repaired.
Cornel Martin, president and CEO of the Washington-based Waterways Council, said the problems at one of the United States’ main waterways underscore the dangers in what Martin called a “fix-as-fail” approach to maintenance of locks and dams.
A similar incident on the Mississippi or Illinois rivers would cause “major disruptions in our nation’s supply chain” and cut off large portions of the country from river transport.
The Markland lock and dam near Cincinnati suffered a catastrophic failure Sept. 27 when a gate fell from the site’s larger of two chambers. River traffic must use an auxiliary chamber, which is half the size of the 1,200-foot main lock chamber, until the gate is repaired.
Markland normally handles 12 to 15 barge tows a day, each pushing up to 15 barges loaded mainly with coal but also chemicals, grain, iron ore and other bulk commodities.
The WCI called on Congress to fully appropriate funds for the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, which calls for construction of new lock chambers at seven river sites.