LITTLE ROCK — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District will implement a new program of daily preventive maintenance at two Arkansas locks on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.
Beginning Oct. 1, Trimble Lock, near Fort Smith and Ozark Lock will close for a four-hour period daily to allow personnel to perform routine preventive and scheduled maintenance.
The maintenance period is from 8 a.m. to noon daily but may be delayed by as much as two hours to allow for the completion of a lockage. This allows lock operators the flexibility to complete a lockage prior to the beginning of the maintenance period.
During the maintenance period no lockages will occur. This will allow crews to concentrate on maintenance efforts. Signs will be posted at launching ramps, marinas and on the up and down stream ends of locks to inform the public of the changes in operating hours.
Recreational boaters are encouraged to use the public boat ramps to access the upstream or downstream portions of the MKARNS to avoid possible extended waiting times that may be experienced due to scheduled maintenance periods.
The system has operated essentially without interruption except for routine scheduled maintenance for more than 40 years, however, the Corps is seeing trends of constrained budgets, increasing breakdowns and increasing backlog of preventive maintenance. The implementation of daily maintenance periods should increase long-term availability of the facilities and reduce unscheduled outages.
The system is fully functional, and historical data indicates that the daily maintenance period should have minimal impact to commercial and recreational traffic. The maintenance program will be evaluated by the Corps annually.
The Corps also is developing a recreation lockage policy for the 2013 season. The policy will take into account special scheduled events and recreational boater needs.