Lock & Dam 11 reopens after barge breakaway - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lock & Dam 11 reopens after barge breakaway

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

They don't call it the 'Mighty Mississippi' for nothing.

A dozen barges broke loose from a tugboat caused havoc at Lock and Dam No. 11 near Dubuque on Friday.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the vessel Miss Dorothy, operated by Western Rivers Boat Management had lost its loaded barges carrying beans and corn at mile marker 583 on the Mississippi River.

Crews said the current was an issue.

"As the towboat was coming in with his approach, the current pulled him out in front of the dam, and the head of the tow after they got over so far, hit our river wall, and by doing that, it started breaking the wires that attach the barges to each other," said Tim Coehn, assistant lock master.

Like a chain reaction, one by one, the barges ended up against the dam. One of them made its way through.

"Obviously a concern with the one going through and the bridge, with anybody on the bridge, as far as any kind of human life," Coehn said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to shut down the area to navigation.

"Other concerns we had was the high water conditions, the water backing up and causing flooding up in our parks, anybody's homes."

Over the course of the weekend, they pulled out majority of the barges, but two are partially sunken. Along with the help of the U.S Coast Guard, the corps will develop a plan with a tow company to recover the final two barges. It will require extra equipment and lower river levels to safely remove.

As of Saturday night, the lock and dam re-opened to navigation with several tows waiting. 

Officials are investigating the cause. 

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