LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, will host four public workshops in November to discuss ways to increase the continued reliability of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.
The Corps is proposing changes to lockage policies for recreational boaters on the MKARNS in Arkansas and the possible expansion of its preventive maintenance program.
Although there will be no formal presentations, the public is invited to attend the workshops and talk one on one with Corps representatives about the proposed changes. Written comments will also be accepted at the workshops.
Workshops will be held in Little Rock, Ark., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Witt Stephens, Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, 602 President Clinton Avenue.
The Russellville, Ark., workshop will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Russellville Project Office at 1598 Lock and Dam Road.
The Ozark/Fort Smith workshop will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative at 1811 West Commercial Street in Ozark, Ark.
The Pine Bluff, Ark., workshop will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, 1400 Black Dog Road.
The proposed recreation lockage changes will reduce the number of swings on lock gates at facilities with high recreational boating traffic, thus reducing the wear on the gates.
“Currently, our two high recreational lockage facilities are Murray Lock and Dam in Little Rock and Terry Lock and Dam near Scott, Ark.” the district’s Chief of Operations Division John Balgavy said.
The Corps implemented a new program of daily preventive maintenance Oct. 1 at Trimble Lock, near Fort Smith, Ark., and Ozark Lock, at Ozark, Ark. Those locks close for a four hour period daily to allow personnel to perform routine preventive and scheduled maintenance.
“We are looking into the benefits of expanding our preventive maintenance program to the remainder of our Arkansas locks,” Balgavy said.
The implementation of daily maintenance periods and limiting recreational boaters’ lockage times should increase long-term availability of the facilities and reduce unscheduled outages.
The policy will take into account special scheduled events such as bass tournaments, flotillas, and civic celebrations.
The MKARNS has operated essentially without interruption except for routine scheduled maintenance for more than 40 years; however, the Corps is seeing trends of constrained budgets, increasing breakdowns and backlog of preventive maintenance.