Upper Mississippi River Will Begin Closing Locks At Night


The Mississippi River’s navigation season begins this week, and with it comes some changes to the locks and dams in the Minneapolis area.

The Upper Mississippi River locks and dams are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) will begin closing a few locks for five hours each night to save money.

The ACE’s Bryan Peterson says fewer recreational boats and towboats with barges will be passing through in the middle of the night. The Corps predicts it will save $770,000 annually, mostly from staffing hours.

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“These locks are pretty darn old, so we want to increase the money available to maintain them so that we can go into the future being able to support the barge traffic that’s coming through there.”

Peterson says they worked with industries that rely on night shipping to establish the new hours.

Paul Rohde is the vice president of Waterways Council, an inland water advocacy group. He says the Mississippi River is not alone. Lock hours have been reduced on rivers across the country over the last year. As far as the financial impact, Rohde says it is still too early to crunch the numbers.

“This is yet another set of circumstances imposed on the industry that aren’t business friendly. This is a time when we should be doing everything we can to move more product on the river and away from the general public.”

The ACE will evaluate the new hours over the summer to see if it is working well for affected businesses.