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Illinois Waterway

The Illinois Waterway, which provides a navigable connection between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, includes eight lock and dam sites which are long overdue for significant repairs. In order to facilitate these repairs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District is planning a closure of six of the eight sites in the year 2020. The closures are scheduled to take place simultaneously to lessen impact to commercial navigation as much as possible.

Each site has a single lock chamber for passing vessels. If one lock on the waterway is closed, no traffic will be able to transit past that spot in the river. Closing multiple locks at the same time will serve as a more efficient way to make repairs to the system as a whole and prevent the need for extended closures over many years. Currently, closures are being anticipated for the months of July through October. This will allow the highest probability of flooding to be past and the greatest chance for work to be done before the harvest season when river traffic is very heavy.

Planned 2020 Closures

 Planned closures in 2020 include:
  • LaGrange Lock & Dam – Versailles, Illinois - Work will include dewatering the lock chamber to replace severely worn lock gate machinery and make significant repairs to crumbling concrete and steel structures. This work is anticipated to take up to 120 days to complete.
  • Peoria Lock & Dam – Creve Coeur, Illinois – Work will include dewatering the lock chamber for approximately 60 days to perform inspections and maintenance of areas usually submerged.
  • Starved Rock & Dam – Ottawa, Illinois, and Marseilles Lock & Dam – Marseilles, Illinois - Work will include dewatering the lock chamber to reconstruct miter gate sills and replace anchorages in preparations for new miter gates to be installed. This work is expected to take up to 120 days.
  • Dresden Island Lock & Dam – Morris, Illinois, and Brandon Road Lock & Dam – Joliet, Illinois – These sites are anticipated to only be partially closed allowing for traffic to pass at night. Work will include installing bulkhead recesses so that future maintenance and dewaterings will be possible. Width restrictions will be necessary for a portion of the time while the slots are under construction, and a shorter, two-week full closure will be needed at some point during the process to construct the bulkhead sill across the bottom of each lock chamber.

Additional Information

In 2023, additional closures will be needed at Dresden Island Lock and Dam and Brandon Road Lock and Dam to install new gates and perform anchorage and sill modifications. A three-year delay is planned so that the navigation industry has ample time to prepare and recoup from the 2020 closures.

Currently, no work is scheduled at the two locks closest to Lake Michigan (Lockport Lock and T.J. O’Brien Lock), if there are unforeseen failures, maintenance needs or construction requirements that occur between now and the scheduled closures in 2020 and 2023, the work will be coordinated to coincide with the scheduled closures as much as possible.

Contracts for the large miter gate fabrications at Starved Rock and Marseilles have already been awarded, and the Corps expects to award a contract for the LaGrange Major Rehabilitation project in 2018. This will allow for large items like gate machinery to be fabricated in time for the 2020 closures. The closures will be a cooperative effort between several Corps of Engineers Districts, including as many as four heavy-lift floating cranes, and contractors at each site.