When you ask Paul Rohde to explain the lock and dam situation through the heart of the Midwest, he has a pretty simple description.

“It’s a robust industry, but it’s working off of an infrastructure that was built during the Works Progress Administration (1939) and really with 19th century traffic in mind,” said Rohde, who serves as vice president of the Midwest area for the Waterways Council and is ready to see some improvements.

“On the Illinois River, we’ll start to see some major maintenance by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Starved Rock and Marseilles Lock and Dam, with partial closures slated for June and July.”

Full closures are anticipated for a couple of weeks in mid- to late August.

“Six of these locks will experience major closures next summer,” Rohde said. “It’s been maintenance that’s been long overdue, but there will be some major disruptions on the locks on the Illinois and also in the summer of 2023.”

In addition, there will be a major rehabilitation at LaGrange Lock and Dam in 2020.

“It will help with the condition of the lock but unfortunately won’t help the capacity issue,” Rohde said.

Authorization has been granted for a 1,200-foot lock chamber, but construction funding has not been released for the expansion.