Locks and Dams

High Water Affects Lock, Ferry Operations On Ohio River

Torrential rains in the Ohio Valley and surrounding area led to changes in lock and ferry operations last week.

The Markland Locks and Dam in Louisville temporarily ceased locking due to high water March 3.

The Louisville Engineer District suspended the lock’s operations after close coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard and industry partners. The Corps expected the lockage suspension to last 24-48 hours until conditions improved.

High water caused conditions to deteriorate, causing substantial outdraft and drift buildup on the upper end of the lock chamber, according to a news release from the Corps of Engineers. 

“Once the river crests, and drift on the upper end is cleared from the approach, locking may resume,” the Corps said.

Vessels in the area should contact the Markland Locks and Dam to get into the queue to transit the lock when conditions improve.

McAlpine Restrictions

High water also affected locking at the McAlpine Locks and Dam in in Louisville.

Due to high flow conditions, southbound traffic in the Louisville Vessel Traffic Service area and McAlpine Locks and Dam was restricted to daylight hours only between the L&I Railroad Bridge (Mile 604.4) and Towhead Island (Mile 602.0) until the McAlpine upper gauge drops below 18 feet, said Katelyn Newton, public affairs officer for the Louisville Engineer District. There were no restrictions on northbound traffic.

On the lower Ohio, the Cave-in-Rock Ferry, connecting Crittenden County, Ky., to Cave-in-Rock, Ill., was expected to close during the evening of March 5, when the river was projected to hit 42.5 feet on the Shawneetown gauge, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Floodwaters were expected to continue rising to 43.6 feet by March 10. The ferry, at Mile 881.0, carries about 500 vehicles across the river daily.

Dorena-Hickman Ferry

Downstream of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, high water also closed the Dorena-Hickman Ferry, which carries motor vehicles between Hickman, Ky., and Dorena, Mo., at Mississippi River Mile 922.0.

The ferry closed March 4 and is expected to remain closed until around March 14, when the river is expected to fall below 44 feet at the Cairo gauge.