Locks and Dams

Harvey Lock Work Ends After Extended Closure

Maintenance work at the Harvey Lock wrapped up last week, bringing to a close what became more than a 100-day closure for the lock. Harvey Lock is one of two structures that connect the western Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) to the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The other lock, which served as an alternate during the closure, is the larger, newer Algiers Lock.

The closure saw the refurbishment of Harvey Lock’s miter gates, as well as fabrication of new turnbuckles, new operating machinery for one of the gates, the removal of mooring bitts, replacement of pintle balls and concrete expansion joints, and the installation of new lighting.

The closure was initially forecast to last 60 days, but weather and delays at both Harvey Lock and the nearby 4th Street Bridge extended the closure for more than an additional month.

Victor Landry, GIWW operations manager for the New Orleans Engineer District, announced to mariners December 21 that the lock was ready to return to full operation but that the weather could postpone its reopening to navigation until sometime during Christmas weekend.

“We are ready to resume full lock operations, but the extreme low water on the Mississippi River and the elevated Harvey canal elevation has caused a reverse head condition that we are waiting to equalize,” Landry said. “We cannot safely operate the lock with the reverse head condition, as this is critical to the lock gates and machinery.”

Landry said the lock might not reopen until a cold front passed through the area, which was forecast to occur around December 24. A cold front, with its northerly winds, would push the water level in the Harvey Canal down nearer that of the river.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding during the Harvey Lock dewatering, as we certainly had our share of challenges,” Landry said in his message last week.