The Jim Woodruff Locks at Lake Seminole on the Apalachicola River at Chattahoochee, Fla., have been temporarily closed for repairs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today.
The locks malfunctioned on April 6 and were closed so repairs could be made. They are expected to remain closed until mid-May so workers can replace the hydraulic cylinders that open and close the gates, the Corps reported.
The locks upstream at Lake Walter F. George (Lake Eufaula) and Lake George W. Andrews will not be affected, the Corps said. But the closing of the gates downstream will affect all river traffic on the lower Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin, the Corps advised, suggesting that recreational and commercial users make changes in their plans for the period the locks are closed.
The Corps considered closing all the locks between Walter F. George and the Gulf of Mexico in the fall of 2012, citing a lack of traffic and the expense of maintaining and staffing the facility.
But they backed away in the face of protests and agreed to keep them open, though on a limited basis. The Corps announced at the time that all the locks at Walter F. George, Andrews and Seminole would be open four days a week for 10 hours each day.
All commercial traffic must still make an appointment for going through the locks, but they will be available to barge traffic 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Recreational traffic will be allowed through during the hours locks are manned, subject to availability of lock operators.