No damage to Illinois River lock after two-barge allision

Two barges that broke free and drifted into protection walls at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam in Utica, Ill., Sunday afternoon caused no damage to the structure and were safely recovered.

The 170’x45’, 6,000-hp American River Transportation (ARTCO) towboat Joyce Hale was pushing an eight-barge tow when two of the barges made contact with the lock wall, causing four to break free, the Coast Guard said. The crew immediately notified the watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee around 1:15 p.m., and began recovering the barges.

The crew of the towboat quickly recovered two barges, but the other two drifted up against the lock wall. The lock was temporarily closed Sunday, but a Coast Guard helicopter flyover and preliminary inspection by the lockmaster and Army corps personnel found no damage to the lock or barges. There were no reported injuries. One of the barges, carrying corn, was recovered Sunday evening, and the second barge, loaded with sand, was recovered Monday morning. The lock reopened Monday morning, according to the Coast Guard.

“The Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, American River Transportation Company and Canal Barge Company worked together to ensure a safe and effective response to this incident,” said Capt. Amy Cocanour, commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “Our goals to safely recover the barges and reopen the waterway as soon as possible were achieved.”

Heavy rains in the Illinois Valley have brought fast water and reminders of floods in the recent years, the News Tribune of LaSalle reported.

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