VICKSBURG, Miss. – Elevated water levels on the Ouachita River have delayed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District’s emergency repair work at Columbia Lock and Dam, located approximately seven miles upstream of Columbia, Louisiana.
Due to unusually severe rain events in February 2019, river stages have been at or slightly above the top of the lock’s walls. Up until this week, the Vicksburg District and Massman Construction Co. have successfully used alternative construction methods to mitigate impacts from the high river stages and avoid suspension of repair work at the site. Massman Construction Co. modified its working platforms to allow repair work to continue despite the higher-than-normal river stages on the Ouachita River. Recent rainfall has now caused river stages to overtop the lock’s walls by over two feet, flooding the site and stopping work. River stages are currently continuing on a flat to slow rise with additional rain in the forecast.
The current pool at Columbia Lock and Dam is 13 feet higher than normal pool stage.
District engineers estimate that it will take approximately four weeks to complete the remaining repairs once work can resume. District engineers will continue to monitor the situation and plan to advance all remaining repair work as conditions permit.
Emergency repair work at Columbia Lock and Dam began in July 2018 after Vicksburg District engineers identified seepage and sand boils near the structure, as well as voids under the lock wall. In November 2018, additional damage was discovered at the upper end of the lock. The repair work was slated for completion by the end of April 2019 before the most recent high water impacts suspended work.
The lock and dam remains closed to traffic. The navigation pass at Columbia Lock and Dam is currently open to traffic, but mariners should contact the lockmaster to determine its condition, which is subject to change based on observed elevations on the Ouachita River.
Citizens should continue to avoid all activities around the lock, dam and other associated structures for safety reasons.
The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of Mississippi River mainline levees. The district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,000 personnel.
Release no. 19-010