Typical traffic for Lock & Dam No. 3As the next barge season begins to appear on the horizon, U.S. Lock & Dam No. 3 near Red Wing is expecting another regular season.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
As the next barge season begins to appear on the horizon, U.S. Lock & Dam No. 3 near Red Wing is expecting another regular season.
Last year, numbers were down slightly compared to the 2010 season, but overall it was a pretty normal season, Vanessa Hamer of U.S. Corps of Engineers said.
“We just consider it normal fluctuation,” she said.
The season length and traffic numbers differ from year to year and vary depending on weather and factors such as high water, ice and construction at different sites.
At Lock & Dam No. 3, construction is expected to be finished soon and shouldn’t affect navigation in 2012, Hamer said.
“If anything it’s going to be improving navigation at Lock & Dam 3 because the structure is improved,” she said.
The more than $70 million project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aims to improve safety at the lock and dam. The location by a natural bend in the river draws water toward the dam and can pull boats as well, Tom Novak, project manager with the Corps of Engineers, said in the fall.
There have been 11 accidents since 1968 at the lock and dam, officials said, though none was major.
Crews also are modifying the channel in an attempt to push the current closer to the dam and make the water shallower and calmer along the guide wall.
Part of the project involved extending guide wall farther into the river so boats can better navigate the area.
High water had put a damper on construction in spring and summer, but Novak predicted the project would wrap up this winter.
Hamer said the next season is expected to open in mid-March, after work on U.S. Lock & Dam No. 7 near La Crescent, Minn., finishes some routine maintenance and repairs. Seasons almost always open in March, Hamer noted.
The Upper Mississippi River’s 2011 season ran from March 30 to Dec. 3.
Here’s the breakdown of traffic that came through Lock & Dam No. 3 near Red Wing:
• 9,396 vessels and
• 6,746,894 tons of cargo passed through the lock and dam.
• The “MV Charlie G” was the last tow to pass through. It came on Nov. 24.
• 959 of the vessels were commercial,
• 8,266 were recreational (such as fishing boats) and
• 171 were of the “other” category, such as government watercrafts.
• In 2010, 10,905 crafts and 7,166,292 tons of cargo passed through Lock & Dam 3.