- The Ohio River was closed for several hours Monday, due to a failure of the hydraulics that open and close the lower gate at Lock 53 near Brookport, Illinois, a Waterways Council press release reported.
- A repair was managed by early afternoon, which allowed the 46 miles long line of delayed vessels laden with soybeans and other harvest products to pass through the main chamber at Lock 53.
- The failures at L&D 52 and 53 are occurring during the low-water season, which means that power plants, manufacturing plants and municipalities that all draw water from the Ohio River could lose access due to the excess pools running dry within the coming week, according to The Army Corps of Engineers, which performed the repairs.
Delays in infrastructure funding are detrimentally impacting the economy.
The 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers gave inland waterways a D grade, the accuracy of which is chronicled in delays and breakdowns such as that occurring at Lock 53. The lock has long been a source of serious concern, with funding and scheduling delays costing shippers millions in time and money lost. Estimates of funding required to upgrade ports, which generate $320 billion each year in taxes alone, stand at $22 billion.
Those involved with the locks, dams, rivers and ports recognize the need for improvements. "The recent unscheduled, emergency outages at Locks and Dams 52 and 53 on the Ohio River demonstrate that our waterways infrastructure is aging ungracefully," Deb Calhoun, Senior Vice President, Waterways Council told Supply Chain Dive.
Hope remains, however, though signs of funding allocation have yet to appear from the current administration. "There will be an opportunity ahead in a Trump Administration infrastructure initiative to modernize our locks and dams,” Calhoun added. Let's hope that opportunity appears sooner rather than later.