Dewatering of lock is underway

PREPARING TO DEWATER THE LOCK–Crew are pictured Monday morning at the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam, moving stoplogs into position on barges as part of the preparation to dewater the lock this week.

For the first time in its 45 years of operation, the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam, formerly the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam, has been shut down for dewatering.

Lock Manager Courtney Wilson met with the North County News on Monday this week to discuss the dewatering process, as well as some history of the lock.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) opened the lock for operation on Nov. 9, 1973 and it was officially dedicated in 1974.

Measuring in at 600 feet long and 84 feet wide, the lock chamber can accommodate up to five barges and one tow boat, with two barges wide.

Wilson noted that the primary goal of the lock was to move coal up and down the Kaskaskia River. Unfortunately, the coal industry dropped off in the late 1990s and early 2000s, significantly reducing the amount of tonnage shipped through the lock.

But, the surrounding communities and the stakeholders rallied in support and USACE decided to keep the lock open year round, 24 hours a day, but to reduce the staff working at the lock. The Lower Kaskaskia Stakeholders, Inc. (LKSI) continues to support the lock through educating public, private and government entities, and the Kaskaskia Regional Port District (KRPD) works very hard at diversifying the products shipped on the river.

For more on the lock and dam, please see this week’s print edition.