High, Rushing Water Leads To Shutdown Of Mississippi River Locks Near Twin Cities

Closures Will Affect Agricultural, Steel, Recycling Shipments


Mississippi River locks are closed to all traffic in the Twin Cities area, after high, rushing water forced officials to shut them down on Wednesday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed the Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls locks and Lock and Dam 1 until further notice. The closure will likely last into next week. It closed the locks to recreational traffic on Sunday and expanded to closure to commercial navigation on Tuesday.

The Corps shuts down the Minneapolis-area locks to boaters when the Mississippi River begins to flow at 30,000 cubic feet per second – a flow that has been described as the equivalent of 150 fire hoses firing at the same spot at once. The locks close to all traffic at 40,000 feet per cubic second.

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Corps spokesman George Stringham says the currents become too powerful and dangerous.

“One thing you have to think about is when flows are up as high as they are, things happen real quickly,” said Stringham. “It’s not like when flows are lower and there’s more time to react if there’s an engineering problem, a steering problem, or whatnot.”

Stringham says the closures will mostly affect agricultural, steel, and recycling shipments.

Closures at locks and dams south of the Twin Cities are based on water levels, not flow. At this point, the Mississippi River is not high enough to trigger closures at other locks.