Locks and Dams

Ground Broken For First Of Eight Mooring Cells At Upper Mississippi River Locks

The Rock Island Engineer District hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new mooring cell at Locks and Dam 14 near Pleasant Valley, Iowa, on April 23.

This mooring cell, part of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), is a 30-foot-wide cell that provides a staging area for commercial vessels to safely moor in the river while waiting to lock through Lock 14. It is one of eight planned mooring cells near Upper Mississippi River locks. The mooring cell will be approximately 31 feet in diameter and constructed of steel sheet piling with concrete fill and foundation and will cost about $2.3 million.

According to the Rock Island District, the cells are a “small-scale navigation efficiency improvement project that will create time savings for our navigation industry partners as they traverse the Upper Mississippi River.” The Corps has calculated that even if the time savings is only five minutes per lockage, the “payback” could be nearly $300,000 a year through reduced wait times and improved lockage times.

Besides providing time savings, the cells are designed to reduce emissions by allowing towboats to turn their engines off while waiting for lockages. Operators welcome them because they will save fuel costs. They will also reduce riverbank damage from tows that nose into the bank while waiting for lockages.

The mooring cell program has been in the works for several years. The NESP has about $940 million to fund ecosystem and navigation improvements in the Upper Mississippi area.