High water is expected to close lock site at Lock and Dam 15 this weekend

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Leaders with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say high water on the Mississippi is set to close the lock site at Lock and Dam 15 this weekend.

That means commercial traffic, such as barges carrying things such as grain, coal and other products essential to the economy of the Midwest, would have to stop and wait for the river to go back down.

An assistant lock master tells News 8 that the site is predicted to close on Sunday.

The river was sitting just below 20 feet on Friday morning, and it is near 20.5 feet that the lockage must stop at the site near the Rock Island Arsenal.

Right now, the river is expected to crest in Rock Island at around 20.4 feet on Sunday.

"We have two bridges that won't be able to turn, so the barges won't be able to come up or down until those bridges can turn." said Eddie Sanchez, Assistant Lock Master. "So, they just wait until the water goes back down."

Sanchez said the high flow of water and the amount of water creates stress on the gates as they open and close, which is why the site might need to go out of operation.

The Rock Island District Mississippi River waterway is 313.9 miles long and has 12 locks along the waterway.

Leaders say all except one of the lock sites will probably need to close in the coming days because of high water.

Leaders say once the locks re-open, their goal is to move the barges through the sites as quickly and safely as possible.

"It creates a bottle-beck effect," said Sanchez.

The Rock Island District's waterway navigation system is the second longest of any corps district in the nation.

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