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Ohio River is open despite Markland

Published Oct. 6, 2009

Despite a miter gate failure at the Markland Locks on the Ohio River in Warsaw, Ky. Sept. 27, tows are still locking through the auxiliary 600 foot chamber.

By Tuesday morning, Sept. 29, all tows and vessels had locked and navigation queue was empty.

"The river is open and we are locking tows through the 600 foot chamber," said Louisville District Commander Col. Keith Landry.

The Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District has preliminary repair plans underway to fix the Markland Lock Gate at Warsaw, Ky. The downstream lock gate on the 1,200-by-110 foot chamber failed during operation Sunday. One of the two leaves is resting on the bottom of the lock chamber and the other inoperable lock leaf is still affixed to the lock chamber; it requires stabilization.

The Corps received funding in 2009 for new miter gates for Markland. Oregon Iron Works in Eugene, Ore., was awarded the contract to place new miter gates. The miter gates were scheduled for delivery in 2010 with installation in 2011.

"One prong of the repair plan is to work with Oregon Iron Works to move up the delivery date of the new set of lock gates," said Landry. "The other is to assess what kind of damage has been done to the gate and see if they can be repaired."

A board of investigation has been convened to investigate and determine the cause of miter gate failure. Information from this report will become part of a lessons learned.

On Monday, Sept. 28, sonar and underwater videography were used to locate the fallen miter gate leaf and pinpoint its position. The miter gate leaf is on the bulkhead sill on the bottom of the lock chamber. Moving the lock gate or raising it is critical to the repair plan because bulkheads need to be placed in the chamber so water can be drained from the lock chamber and the repair initiated.

"At the end of the day, the river and our locks are great economic resources," said Rep. Geoff Davis, Kentucky, 4th District. "If you shut down any lock in this Ohio River lock system, it has an effect on the economy."