The miter gates on the locks at Markland Locks and Dam are well past their normal lifespan, but there was no hint of imminent failure during a 10-day engineering inspection that ended a day before a leaf gate, which is one side of a miter gate, broke off its hinge and sank into the river.
The catastophic failure has closed the main lock indefinitely. The Ohio River was closed at Markland for about 11 hours while an auxiliary lock was placed in operation. River navigation continues, a board of investigation continues assessing information to determine a cause of the miter gate failure.
Thankfully for the commerce of middle America and coal diliveries to local power plants, repair plans are currently underway. Indeed, the Louisville District announced that the delivery date of new miter gates for the 1,200-foot lock chamber is March 2010.
Meanwhile, the Corps
has scheduled inspection dives every two weeks by a diving team to monitor the smaller 600-foot lock chamber to ensure its continued operation and integrity while everyone waits for the larger lock to be repaired. The Corps of Engineers reiterates the need for extra care and caution when locking through the 600-foot chamber.