Ohio River Closed Again as Water Levels Rise

Traffic along the Ohio River is seeing major hurdles this harvest season. Just last week, Lock & Dam 53 closed due to a break-down as the hydraulics that open and close the lower gate failed to work properly.

The issue popped up as barges along the Mississippi River were forced to haul at half-tow, as dry weather drained major waterways. The low river levels made it difficult for barge operators to move adequate product, which slowed down harvest with some farmers reporting they were being asked to store grain until the issue eased.

On Wed., Oct. 11, the U.S. Waterways Council said the issue this week is the rising river level. That forced the Ohio River to shut down to traffic at Locks & Dam 52 earlier in the week. With river levels already exceeding the maximum locking stage of 20.7 feet and expected to rise further through the end of the week, the Waterways Council expects limits to be placed on navigation until either Sunday or Monday.

As the hiccups on the river pile up this year, Deb Calhoun of the U.S. Waterways Council says more attention needs to be placed on improving an aging infrastructure system.

“In service since 1928, Locks and Dams 52 and 53 on the Ohio River are to be replaced by the Olmsted Lock and Dam which was authorized in 1988, but will not open until next year,” she said. “Once Olmsted is finished, Locks and Dams 52 and 53 will be removed.”

President Donald Trump also drew attention to the issue in June when he revealed his infrastructure plan using the Ohio River as a backdrop.

“Together, we will fix it,” the President said in his speech. “We will create the first-class infrastructure our country and our people deserve.”

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