Locks and Dams

Scheduled Maintenance At Montgomery Lock Caused Up To Five-Day Delays

Mariners were experiencing delays of up to about five days in transiting Montgomery Locks and Dam at Ohio River Mile 32, due to a scheduled lock chamber closure.

John Dilla, chief of the locks and dams branch for the Pittsburgh Engineer District, verified the length of the delays, adding, “It’s painful for everybody. There’s no question about that. But this short-term pain is buying down a lot of risk and giving us long-term reliability.”

The lock’s main chamber was closed for miter gate repairs from October 29 through December 22. The auxiliary chamber was in use.

At one time earlier this month, 67 cuts were waiting above the dam and 75 cuts below it, one towboat company reported.

As of December 15, six vessels and their tows were waiting above the dam and 10 below it, said Andrew Byrne, public affairs specialist for the Pittsburgh Engineer District.

He added that the project was on schedule.

The Corps worked closely with the navigation industry to schedule the maintenance, Byrne said.

“Scheduling a short-term delay like this helps us to avoid long-term delays in the future,” he said. “This ensures the main chamber is reliable if we have to perform maintenance work on the auxiliary chamber.”

Maintenance work is planned on the auxiliary chamber in 2022 as part of the Upper Ohio Navigation Project. Doing this work on the main chamber now takes advantage of water conditions and helps avoid construction delays, Byrne said.

Delays in locking through the area developed in part because although the main chamber can lock nine barges at one time, the auxiliary chamber is capable of locking only one at a time.