The locks at New Savannah Bluff were closed today to all boat traffic.
It broke again, said Augusta Port Authority Chairman Frank Carl. Its the hydraulics.
Repairs are already being evaluated, he said, and will be managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the 72-year-old project near Augusta Regional Airport.
We hope to have it open again by late January but they are telling us, based on their contractors, that March 1 will be the drop-dead date, Dr. Carl said.
The aging dam has required a series of repairs during the past decade to keep its gates functional. In addition to allowing boat traffic to move between the upper river along downtown Augusta and the lower channel that leads to Savannah, the lock is also operated frequently during the spring and summer to allow migrating American shad the opportunity to move upstream to spawn.
In addition to short-term repairs and maintenance, the project needs $22 million in major renovations which will include the addition of a fish passage structure. Although Congress authorized the repair project in 2000, it never funded the repairs.
In 1999, the corps proposed demolishing the dam and its locks because the project no longer supported commercial shipping the purpose for which it was built in 1937.
Efforts to save the dam - and its 13-mile pool of water tapped by industries and cities - yielded a congressional decree that it be repaired and turned over to local municipalities