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Six Illinois Locks & Dams to close July 1

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PEORIA (WEEK)- Six Illinois Locks & Dams will close starting July 1 to work on a four month project.

The closing of the locks and dams means farmers will need to use a new form of transportation as barges will no longer be able to travel along the Illinois River.

Manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau, Patrick Kirchhofer, said this will require them to use trains and trucks to transport their commodities.

"That process takes much longer, it's less efficient. Whereas one barge will hold 60,000 bushels of grain, one rail car will hold only 4,000 bushels, and one truck only around 900 bushels," said Kirchhofer.

Chief of Lock and Dam, Michael Walsh, said Illinois is behind on its waterways compared to other parts of the country due to high commercial traffic.

"While the other waterways have luxury of potentially doing closures during the winter time during their non-navigation season, or they have the luxury of dual chambers that allows them to work on one chamber while the other is being locked. We don't have that here," said Walsh.

This means they need to do as much work as possible within a short period of time since the lock closure impacts other industries besides just farmers.

"It includes the transportation, the processors, the packaging, you know the grocery stores, and the fertilizer industry. There's a lot of different industries associated with agriculture besides the farmers," added Kirchhofer.

Recreational boaters will also be unable to travel through locks and dams during this project.

The project is scheduled to be completed by late October 2020.


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