Woodruff lock closes for repairs

Published 5:00 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

Emergency repairs are being done on the lock at the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam system. This will happen on Monday, April 20, at 8 a.m. to Friday, April 24, at 3:30 p.m.

Jason Barrentine, site manager for the dam, said they are having a problem with the hydraulic system for the upstream gate on the land side. They feel they may have air in the hydraulic line. If the repair is an easy one, the lock could reopen sooner than expected. The only thing that could delay the April 24 reopening is if parts need to be ordered.

If necessary, they would be able to accommodate small private crafts. However, large vessels and barges could not be transported through the lock. The lock system has four gates. Two gates are upstream and two gates are downstream. The two gates are then called either the riverside gate or the landside gate. The gate on the right, the land side, as you are coming from Lake Seminole, is the one which has the problem.

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Barrentine said the problem was not caused by the flood waters or any of the debris, which has been coming down to the dam. The dam is handling all of the excess water easily. The only thing that they notice is that they need to clean out the trash, which is accumulating at the wall more often.

The Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam came into existence with the Rivers and Harbors Act in 1946. There have never been any major problems at the dam at any time since its initial start up in 1957. The cement and other building materials were made to last for a long time. To operate the lock, each boat that enters is visually checked every time. Once inside, there are floating moorings attached to the lock wails. The boats are tied to the moorings while the water is raised up 33 feet. While the lock is filling, an operator circles the lock and checks to be sure the boat remains secure. When the water reaches the right depth, they move smoothly out the other end. The dam is well maintained and undergoes daily inspection. It has run 24 hours a day, seven days a week for over 50 years,