Study looks at impact of aging locks and dams along upper Mississippi

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois (KWQC) -- A new study by Wisconsin researchers looks at how deteriorating locks and dams along the Upper Mississippi River could have negative impacts on traffic and bridges.

The study says locks and dams are deteriorating faster than they are being replaced, which increases the chances of them failing.

Lock and Dam 15 in the Rock Island district is about 80 years old.

"Well, there are about 25 million tons of product that comes through this lock right here at Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad Cities," said Tom Heinold, Chief of Operations for the Rock Island division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Heinold said the concrete is decaying. He said repairs are done every day on Lock and Dam 15, but it is costly to maintain and repair.

"The funding has not been sufficient to perform periodic major rehabilitation of these locks and dams," he said.

The study says lock and dam failures on the upper Mississippi River could increase traffic on highways, negatively affecting infrastructure.

Heinold said if Lock and Dam 15 were to shut down, it would put about a million trucks on the road.

"So, to put a million trucks on the road would cause even more damage to the road, you know, just having trucks wear it out just that much faster, so we want to do all we can to keep this critical infrastructure going," he said.

One barge is the equivalent of about 70 semi-trailers.

The Rock Island Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes that in 2020, they can work on major improvements of Lock and Dam 15.