ACBL warns of “catastrophic” Tennessee River barge delays

Written by Marine Log Staff
Wilson Lock closure spells barge traffic delays

Wilson Lock [Image; USACE]

American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL) today wrote its dry cargo customers warning them that it is anticipating catastrophic delays for barges transiting the Tennessee River to destinations above Wilson Lock (Mile 259.4).

Common barge destinations that will be affected are: Florence, Decatur, Guntersville, Chattanooga, Knoxville.

ACBL says an Industry meeting was recently held to confirm Wilson Lock (main chamber) closure dates and to discuss the impacts of the closure. The plan is for the lock to be closed beginning February 23 through April 29, with one break to allow traffic to pass (see specific schedule below). The auxiliary lock is planned to be available, but it will be woefully inadequate in relieving delay, as it can only lock one barge at a time (versus main chamber of 9 barges per lockage). It is projected that only 18 barges during a 24-hour period will lock through the auxiliary chamber. Normally, a full tow of barges (15 barges) using the main chamber can be locked in about 4 hours.

Delays in departures from the Cairo/Paducah area to the Tennessee River, and lock delay at Wilson Lock, are anticipated to be severe.

“Although we don’t know what these delays will amount to,” says ACBL, “the ‘best guess’ is that lock delay at Wilson Lock could build to 8 days or more. Delays in departures from the Cairo/Paducah area (interchange point) could build to 12 days or more.”

ACBL will be billing for delays: once the barge arrives in the Cairo/Paducah area (demurrage), and for lock delay.

Beginning February 23 (extending to at least the anticipated opening of April 29), barges located in the Cairo/Paducah area, or arriving in the Cairo/Paducah area, that are destined to a port above Wilson Lock, will be placed in demurrage status. Barges will be released from demurrage status once they depart on boats that are inbound to the Tennessee River.

Thereafter, lock delay will be billed accordingly. Once a barge reaches its destination, it will again be placed in demurrage status (as normal) until said barge is released as an empty back to ACBL. Barges that are loaded/originated above the Wilson Lock closure will be billed lock delay.

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