The U.S. Department Agriculture said today that the planned closure of the LaGrange Lock and Dam on the Illinois River has now been extended through Oct. 13, according to a discussion at the Inland Waterways Users Board on July 22.
Because of high water, the contractor could not perform certain pre-closure tasks, the USDA reported in its weekly Grain Transportation Report. The extended closure will overlap with the period of high activity in Illinois grain harvesting. In an attempt to keep the closure period to the original 90 days, the Rock Island District of the Army Corps of Engineers is in discussions with the contractor to accelerate the process, the USDA said. However, the Corps cannot guarantee an expedited process. The other lock closures on the Illinois River remain on schedule.
As a major artery for barged grain transportation, the Illinois River is an economic key to U.S. agriculture. In 2019, over 6.5 million metric tons (mmt) of downbound grain (22% of all barged grain through the Mississippi locking system) passed through the LaGrange Lock and Dam — the final lock and dam facility on the Illinois River, the USDA said. Given these volumes, outages on the Illinois can cause substantial shifts in shipping routes, modes, and prices.
LaGrange Lock and Dam is located 7.8 miles below Beardstown, Ill. It sits 80.2 miles above the confluence of the Illinois River with the Mississippi River at Grafton, Ill.