LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In its on-going effort to increase reliability of the Arkansas River locks and dams, the Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, will temporarily adjust daily maintenance closure times at James W. Trimble Lock and Dam near Fort Smith, Ark., and Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam in Ozark, Ark., beginning Jan. 7.
Since Oct. 1, 2012, these locks have closed daily from 8 a.m. to noon for scheduled maintenance. During the 30-day trial period, the Corps will test a more flexible schedule based on projected daily commercial tow traffic.
“For example, if all the commercial traffic is slated to transit the lock in the afternoon then we can actually adjust the maintenance period for that day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” explained the district’s Chief of Operations Division John Balgavy. “This affords us six hours of maintenance, instead of four.”
According to Balgavy, recreational vessel lockages would be accommodated after the first four hours of any daily maintenance period.
“If the daily maintenance period based on commercial traffic is 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., then recreational traffic would be locked after 11 a.m. if the lock equipment is in working order,” he added.
The Corps’ intent is to accomplish 28 hours of maintenance per week. Once each lock has achieved its weekly 28 hours of maintenance, the lock would open for all users, 24 hours a day, for the remainder of the week.
Since the 30-day trial is occurring at two locks during the heart of winter it should have minimal impact on recreational users.
“We will continue to aggressively and creatively look at ways to maintain a resilient, reliable navigation system that meets the long term needs of all users,” said Balgavy.
Mariners transiting the area during the trial period (Jan. 7-Feb. 5) should contact the locks on Channel 16 to confirm the exact closure times each day.
The public may contact the locks by telephone for a recorded update of daily maintenance schedules. Telephone numbers are 479-667-2120 for Ozark-Jeta Taylor and 479-452-0488 for Trimble.
During the trial period, daily closure times also will be posted on Little Rock District’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/usacelittlerock.
The Corps’ Tulsa District is also implementing a similar trial period in Oklahoma at Webber Falls Lock and Dam, Chouteau Lock and Dam, and Newt Graham Lock and Dam.
For more information, contact James McKinnie, Little Rock District’s Navigation and Maintenance Section, at 501-324-5739, or email CESWL-OP-OM@usace.army.mil.