News: Corps to allow public access to Wilson Navigation Lock
Story by Bill Peoples
FLORENCE, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District announced today that it is offering the public access to Wilson Navigation Lock beginning May 23, 2014. The lock will be accessible to visitors Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the year. It will only be closed to the public when it is drained and closed for periodic maintenance.
The Corps restricted access to the lock following Sept. 11, 2001, as a security precaution, but district officials now support allowing the public into these areas to foster better community relations and to let people see how the lock facilitates movement of commerce within the U.S. inland waterway system.
“After more than a decade of significant restrictions, we are excited to be able to reopen the locks to the public during daylight hours,” said Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander. “We are committed to balancing the need for security with the interest people have in visiting the facilities and watching boats lock through the dam, as they move up and down the Tennessee River.”
Wilson Navigation Lock is one of 10 locks (14 locks if including auxiliary locks) located on the 650-plus navigable miles in the Tennessee River Basin. The original project was completed by the Corps in 1927. In 1959, the Tennessee Valley Authority completed the main single-lift lock, along with several related improvements, to replace the old and inadequate double-lift lockage system. It began operating Nov. 10. 1959. The modified auxiliary lock was reopened on Feb. 9, 1961. TVA owns the project; the Corps is responsible for navigation and is charged to operate and maintain the locks.
The main lock is a single chamber measuring 110-feet-wide and 600-feet-long. On average 10 million tons of commodities are transported through the lock every year, which include wheat, corn, scrap metal, and chemicals. There are more than 1,000 lockages for recreational traffic each year. It is the highest single lift lock east of the Rocky Mountains with a normal lift of between 93 and 100 feet.
The lock is located at 704 South Wilson Dam Road, Florence, AL, 35630. It is also located at mile 259.4 of the Tennessee River in Lauderdale County. For more information please contact the Wilson Lockmaster at 256-764-5223.
The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.
The public can also visit the Wilson Navigation Lock website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/NavigationLocks/TennesseeRiver/Wilson.aspx.