Tow rails at Lock and Dam 5 and 5A recently received an upgrade. “We had the original tow rail from the 1930s,” Judy Denzer, Lock and Dam 5 lockmaster, said. “It was time for an upgrade.”
Construction at Lock and Dam 5, near Minnesota City, Minnesota and Lock and Dam 5A, near Fountain City, Wisconsin, started when the 2020 navigation season came to a close in December.
The project included new tow rail, traveling mooring bitts and mule to assist the navigation industry moving upriver.
The tow rail system, Denzer said, is used when a tow comes through that has more than six barges and it has to be broken apart into two sections. It guides barges safely out of the lock chamber. Specifically, it helps the 1200-foot long tows pass the 600-foot chamber.
“Once the first set of barges has locked through, they wrap a cable around the mule, pull the mule out and it helps keep the tow along the upper wall,” Denzer said. “Once they get to the end, they throw the line onto the wall, tie themselves up, and then the barges stay there until we can bring the second cut of the tow through and couple together.”
The traveling mooring bitt system, located on the upper guidewalls, helps guide upstream tows out of the lock chamber and promotes efficient and safe passage for workers and long tows requiring multiple lockages.
Kim Warshaw, project manager, said, “The replacement of the tow rail system ensures the safe passage of the navigation industry as they move upriver and also ensures the safety of Corps lock staff.”