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River Traffic Is Going To Be Very, Very Bad Until June

Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
A tugboat pushes a barge up the Monongahela River.

Commercial and recreational boat traffic on the Ohio River will be considerably slower until June. Starting Tuesday, the primary lock chambers on the Emsworth and Dashields Locks and Dams will be closed for repairs, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Both Emsworth and Dashields have a big, main lock as well as an auxiliary lock. That smaller chamber is how all the barges and boats will have to navigate the Ohio for the next few months.

Closing the main throughway on both locks takes a significant amount of coordination, said Mark Ivanisin, the district's operations supervisory specialist for the Ohio River.

“So it also makes the process much longer because the tow boats have to be able to break down into individual barges and send them through one at a time,” he said. “Where using the primary lock chamber, they’re able to send them through six or seven at a time.”

Ivanisin said it could take up to eight hours to move a standard tow of 15 barges while the repairs are being made.

“It’s very important to us that we do continue to keep our locks and dams repaired and up to operating standard. We just hope that everybody is patient with us,” he said. “It’s a temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement.”

Crews will replace an antiquated dam system at Emsworth, which will allow future maintenance work to be done safely and more easily. Downriver at Dashields, they will work on gates within the lock.

Both locks are expected to reopen by June 8.