SOUTH MILLS, N.C. (WAVY) — The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway’s Dismal Swamp Canal between North Carolina and Virginia will be closed to vessel traffic for about 90 days for gate restoration.
A contractor removed two South Mills Lock canal gates last week to begin the $525,000 rehabilitation project.
The work is being done by U.S. Facilities Inc. — the primary services contractor for Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — with assistance by W.O. Grubb Crane Rental and Chesapeake Bay Diving Inc., the Norfolk District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrote in a news release.
The project means the locks at South Mills and Deep Creek, Virginia, have stopped operation until the project is completed. The locks cover Route 2 on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway’s Dismal Swamp Canal.
“Repairs are estimated to be completed by the end of March, before the spring migration of vessels going north for the summer,” said Joel Scussel, Norfolk District’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway project manager. “There are no spare gates for locks on the Dismal Swamp Canal. This requires us to shut the canal – then remove, refurbish and replace the gates during the slower months.
“There are no boats in the canal now. We notified the Coast Guard, and we will not let any vessels in at South Mills Lock or Deep Creek Lock until this refurbishment is complete.”
The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, encompassing Route 1 through Great Bridge Lock, will remain open at all times, the release said. Facility operators can be contacted on marine Channel 13.
Canal gates are removed and restored on a rotating schedule every 15 to 20 years to give the locks a longer lifespan.
This particular South Mills gate was last restored in 2002.
“The work is necessary because any structure in the water requires restoration. Gates are one of the critical structures to the lock, and water can take a toll over time,” he added. “It’s among our ongoing efforts to ensure safe navigation for the vessels that use these channels,” Scussel said.