July 7, 2014 - Heavy rains throughout the upper Mississippi Valley from Minnesota and Iowa through Illinois forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close a major lock above St. Louis beginning Sunday.
“We did close Lock and Dam 24 [near Clarksville] to barge traffic at 3 a.m. Sunday,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District spokesman Mike Petersen told MM.
The district’s Emergency Operations Center was activated and “we have a couple of our flood fight teams” in service at St. Charles and Elsberry, Mo., both north of St. Louis.
Lock 24 would overtop at 35 feet and the water is expected to crest at 35 feet, said Petersen. He anticipates the Corps will also have to close Lock and Dam 25 if the water approaching the area rises past 34 feet. Flood stage is 26 feet, according to the National Weather Service.
Only three upbound ships are waiting out the closure below Lock 24.
“When we see flood conditions coming, we coordinate with the barge industry to make sure we let them know what’s going on to prevent barges getting stuck in the system,” Petersen said.
The tonnage of primary manufactured goods that transited Lock 24 in July 2013 was 178.3 million tons, while 139.8 million tons of coal, coke and lignite shipped through.
Traffic at Mel Price Locks and Dam, alongside Alton, Ill., and Lock 27 at Granite City, Ill., where steel, scrap and related materials are frequently loaded and unloaded, was still moving Monday.
Based on National Weather Service forecast, Mel Price Locks and Dam in Alton, Ill., and Locks 27 in Granite City, Ill., are not currently anticipating closures.
Locks 11 through 22, managed by the Corps’ Rock Island District, were closed due to flooding but have been reopened.