Ohio River back open at Lock and Dam 53 near Olmsted - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Ohio River back open at Lock and Dam 53 near Olmsted

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OLMSTED -- The Ohio River has re-opened to boat traffic Monday after problems overnight closed Lock and Dam 53 in Olmsted due to troubles with the dam's hydraulic system.

The hydraulics at Lock 53 have been repaired and commercial navigation has resumed. 

Lock and Dam 53 in Olmsted closed Sunday, around 8 p.m. The Army Corp of Engineers officials said they opened it back up Monday morning, but by Monday afternoon, traffic was backed up for over 40 miles.

You may consider waterways, "out of sight, out of mind," but they play a vital role in moving key commodities.

"It should not be forgotten. It's a critical part of the transportation supply chain in this country," said Waterways Council Senior VP Deb Calhoun.

For a second time within a month, the Army Corps of Engineers stopped traffic along the Ohio River near Olmsted.

"Lock and Dam 53's lower gate failed to open and close due to failure of the hydraulic system within the lock," Calhoun said. 

A week ago, river traffic stopped after a "log-jam" halted movement at Lock 53, forcing a passenger riverboat to make an unexpected stop. Calhoun said the structure, built in 1928, could continue having problems continue until the new Olmsted Lock and Dam replaces Lock and Dams 52 and 53.

"The Corps does a great job of trying to maintain the system, but until we see Olmsted become operational at the end of 2018, we will continue to see these unscheduled outages and these emergency closures," Calhoun said.  

She said right now, 85 tow boats, pushing 919 barges have backed up for 46 miles.

Army Corps officials said traffic will remain backed up for several days.

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