A damaged lock on the New Orleans Industrial Canal is creating traffic delays on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), as well as parts of the Mississippi River.
The stretch of river is used heavily for oil and bulk transport and the GIWW is also one of the most heavily used inland waterways in the nation.The Industrial Canal Lock has been closed for emergency repairs since January 3. Repairs are expected to take until at least January 17. The Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association estimates that the closure could ultimately cost users as much as $1 million per day. The lock, more than 90 years old, requires custom parts to replace equipment that is no longer manufactured.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently undertaking a lock replacement project which will ultimately modernize the aging lock equipment at this location, but the $1.3 billion effort has been delayed for years awaiting both funding and proper authorizations. As many as 70 inland vessels are currently delayed due to the outage. An alternate route – north to the Ohio River, Tennessee River and then back along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway – would probably take tows two weeks to transit. Logistics personnel now face the unenviable task of deciding whether to wait for the repairs to be completed, or embark upon the long detour journey.