Barges stacked up on Tennessee River by rainy weather

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – One of the effects of the recent heavy rains is that they’ve caused the barge traffic through the Chickamauga Lock to come to a halt.

News 12’s Ashley Henderson tells us why.

SCOTT FIEDLER, TVA SPOKESPERSON:
“Whenever our flows get above 750,000 gallons a second the Coast Guard shuts down barge operations.”

The turbulent waters and strong current make it unsafe to use the locks. So barges are anchored four abreast, along the bank of the river far downstream from the dam. They’re waiting on the flow rates to drop. They’ve been sitting there for up to a month because we’ve seen record amounts of rainfall in the TVA region.

FIEDLER:
“Last year was a record rainfall amount at sixty-seven inches, just in January and February alone, uh, they were records, February was three hundred percent normal, if we get just the normal amount of rain for the rest of the year, we will probably set a new record.”

Nick Austin, Meteorologist for FreightWaves, a logistics news and analytics company in Chattanooga, says that since there is no off loading site in this area, the materials on the waiting barges will have to just sit there awhile longer.

NICK AUSTIN, SR. METEOROLOGIST, FREIGHTWAVES
“If you can’t get it on a truck, or on some other mode of transportation, the barge, barges, might have to just try and find another waterway that is actually open.”

But, for freight headed upstream, since the Chickamauga lock is closed to barge traffic right now, they’re stuck right where they are, until the flow rate is lowered.

FIEDLER: “We’ve been trying to recover flood storage for the last four weeks, roughly, we held back about three point five trillion gallons of water up at East Tennessee and over the last month we’ve been releasing that water so we can regain flood storage, just in case mother nature would bring us more rain.”

Fiedler says the spill rate probably won’t drop low enough to allow barge traffic ..until probably Wednesday. In Chattanooga, Ashley Henderson, News 12 Now.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News

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