The Corps of Engineers has opened two locks on the Mississippi River in Clarksville and Winfield in response to receding water levels. The locks had been closed since last week because of flooding. Prior to opening, the closures were essential to protect critical components and facilities, the Corps says.
Chief of Public Affairs Mike Petersen says the locks are a big link for inland transportation and says they are there for navigation purposes so barge traffic and commerce can move up and down the river, just like an elevator.
“We have the world’s largest inland waterways transportation system and it’s a vital part of our national economy,” Petersen says.
He says right now, most of the Mississippi river near St. Louis has crested, so barring any additional rainfall, river levels will begin to slowly drop, though there has been some local flooding.
“So when we know when floodwaters are going to come up over those locks, we want to make sure we can protect equipment so that we can reopen them quickly and cheaply after the floodwaters have passed,” Petersen says. “And we’ve been able to do that as the forecast shows the river dropping off.”
Petersen says in all, there are 29 locks along the Mississippi river, which run from Minnesota to St. Louis. The two that just opened in Clarksville and Winfield are locks 24 and 27.
AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (0:58)