Chickamauga lock closure could affect everyone - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: TVA exploring options for commercial river traffic due to lock closure

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UPDATE: Channel 3 has learned that the Tennessee Valley Authority has made "provisional" calls to companies with access to the Tennessee River.

The agency is exploring what options may be available to them for moving a large generator down river should the lock closure stretch beyond the three weeks estamted for the repair of the lock.

PREVIOUS STORY: The Chickamauga lock is temporarily closed after a routine inspection revealed that it needs to be repaired and it needs to be repaired fast.

The closure is expected to last about 3 weeks while the anchorage of the upper gate gets fixed.

"Basically traffic will stop on the river until it gets fixed," said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.

It's all because of a hair line fracture.

"We did discover a partial crack in a critical steel structure member that caused us to temporarily close the lock and investigate the problem," said Matt Emmons. "This is basically a blessing to discover this problem before a larger issue."

But the lock closing down will affect all of us.

"There are a lot of goods, we have coal, we have chemicals that can't be transported any other way. You basically put them on these large barges," said Fleischmann.

But with no other way to use the river, they're forced to put 150,000 more trucks on the interstate.

"It will put truck traffic on the roads when there doesn't need to be more truck traffic," said Fleischmann.

Fleischmann says the bigger issue is a need for a new lock. "The materials that were used then are eroding and it's in disrepair, but they keep fixing it."

And they'll keep fixing it until another is built.

The funds for a new lock aren't there yet, but leftover money from the Inland Waterway Trust Fund will help finance the project.
"Without that new reform it would have been years and years before we would have ever hoped to get funding for the new lock," said Fleischmann.

But even with more money flowing in, Fleischmann says we're still years away from seeing anything new.

"If all of the funds were available even today to do construction, we're six to eight years away from that," said Fleischmann.

Fleischmann says funds are available to fix the current lock.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers anticipate a three week closure, but it could be longer.

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