Locks and Dams

Corps, Arkansas Waterways Commission Sign Tow-Haulage MOA

Arkansas Waterways Commission Director Cassandra Caldwell, Little Rock Engineer District Commander Col. Damon Knarr and others gathered on June 10 at Murray Lock & Dam 7 to sign a cost-share memorandum of agreement (MOA) for upgrades to the tow haulage system at Murray on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS).

The goal is to speed up lock transit times along the MKARNS. Tow haulage pulls split tows into the lock chamber and then to the downstream or upstream guide wall without towboat assistance, decreasing lockage time by two hours per lock. There are 13 locks and dams along the Arkansas segment of the MKARNS and five locks and dams on the Oklahoma segment. Operational tow haulage significantly decreases transportation time and costs.

Caldwell said the new tow-haulage system is electric, unlike the old hydraulic system that was overwhelmed during the floods of 2019. It was designed to withstand high-water events. The pulley equipment is built into the lock wall, but in the event of a similar high-water event, key components can be safely removed.

The commission has signed similar MOAs with the Little Rock District before, including two in December 2019 to develop design elements for the tow-haulage project at Murray Lock & Dam and to develop a hydraulic model of MKARNS Navigation Mile 222. The commission also signed an MOA with the Little Rock District in 2015 for the Three Rivers Feasibility Study.

The Arkansas River Navigation System Fund (funded by a portion of the ad valorem taxes collected on barge transportation) will provide the cost-share funds for this project. The fund allows the Arkansas Waterways Commission to reinvest navigation-related tax dollars into critical navigation infrastructure on the Arkansas segment of the MKARNS and to continue working with stakeholders and federal partners to ensure the reliability of the MKARNS for future generations of Arkansans.