ST. LOUIS - As if low waters weren't bad enough for traffic here on the Mississippi, an accident yesterday left at least 16 tows with 87 barges biding their time as the 600-foot lock here near Granite City, Ill., had to be closed for repairs. The wait is the result of a barge that got "caught up" in the lock's auxiliary gate around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, causing damage.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the main lock gate has been under repair for the last month and is still not operable.
The main gate was damaged in September when a barge split open a protection cell, spilling rock into the river and making the gate impassible. That accident was a direct result of the low water, which exposed a part of the protection cell that is normally well underwater.
A quick fix was undertaken at the time, leaving the lock only closed for five days, and then the permanent fix began last month, with the assumption the auxiliary gate could handle river traffic at this time of year.