Locks and Dams

Whitten Lock To Begin Month-Long Closure

The Mobile Engineer District is set to close Jamie Whitten Lock, located at Mile 411.9 on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, for the month of July for a dewatering and repairs to its lower miter gate. The closure will begin the morning of June 30, with plans to reopen the lock on July 30.

“In 2014, we discovered excessive cracking in the lower gate, and after further study, we found out there was a design flaw with the lower gate,” said Justin Murphree, operations project manager for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

The Corps, in partnership with maintenance contractor R&D Maintenance Services, will make the repairs with the lower gate leafs in place, Murphree said.

Murphree added that his team had a plan for repairs, funding in place and a closure on the calendar for 2019, but the Corps had to adjust plans due to historic rainfall throughout the system early last year.

“We intended to do it last year but, of course, the flooding and shoaling put us off schedule,” he said. “We’ve had the design for probably a year and a half.”

Whitten is the uppermost lock on the system, and its 84-foot lift ranks fourth highest in the nation. The July closure rounds out a busy 18 months for Whitten Lock and the Tenn-Tom as a whole. Besides the shoaling that hampered navigation on the system last spring and the impressive dredging program that reopened the waterway to navigation, Whitten Lock was the site of another unexpected closure in September 2019. That closure resulted from the release of crude oil into the lock chamber while a towboat and barges were locking through.

Besides the scheduled maintenance at Whitten, the Tenn-Tom team is overseeing maintenance dredging on the system and a shorter closure for routine maintenance at Howell Heflin Lock and Dam, located at Mile 266.1, set for July 7 through July 21.