USDA Grain Transportation Report (3/30): Barge Breakaway Closes McAlpine Locks and Dam on Ohio River

According to today's USDA Grain Transportation Report, on March 28, a vessel towing 11 barges “made contact with a stationary structure” at the entrance of the Portland Canal on the Ohio River near Louisville, KY.

As a result of the impact, 10 of the 11 barges broke loose, and three of them lodged against the lower McAlpine Dam.

A narrow, human-made waterway, the Portland Canal connects the Ohio River to the McAlpine Locks and Dam and allows vessels to pass around the Ohio River’s falls.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had closed the lock chambers at McAlpine Locks and Dam for 17 hours, but the chambers have since reopened under restrictions for southbound traffic to use a helper boat.

One of the barges involved in the accident carried 1,400 tons of methanol, and several others contained corn and soybeans. In 2021, nearly 2.8 million tons of grain moved through the McAlpine Locks and Dam.