Mississippi River Locks 27 Main Chamber Reopens
The main chamber at Mississippi River Chain of Rocks Locks (Locks 27, near Granite City, Ill.) reopened Friday, February 19, after closing down February 1 for maintenance and repairs. According to Lockmaster Jeremy Garzia, Corps crews of between five and 10 people at a time replaced the chains on the lift gate, working despite bitter cold and icy conditions. During this time, the auxiliary lock remained open for traffic. Despite the conditions, said Garzia, there were usually three or four tows waiting in either direction at any one time to transit through the 600-foot auxiliary lock, which takes about twice as long as through the 1,200-foot main chamber.
Crews also took the opportunity to inspect all equipment not normally available for inspection. Happily, said Garzia, they found no unwelcome surprises.
Between 2016 and 2020, the average February tonnage for grain movements through Locks 27 was 1.08 million tons, 4 percent of annual total tonnage through the lock. The structure is situated near the southern end of the 8.4-mile long, man-made Chain of Rocks Canal, which was originally built to circumvent a nasty stretch of rock ledges that made that section of the river dangerous to navigate. The first day of operations for the locks was February 7, 1953.
The Chain of Rock Locks move more cargo in a year than any other single navigation structure on the entire Mississippi River system.