JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District will accept public comment through March 31 regarding the temporary closure of the Ortona Lock scheduled for June.
The Corps has been accepting public comments on the proposal to temporarily close the Ortona Lock along the Okeechobee Waterway in south Florida for maintenance and repairs since the end of January.
The Corps of Engineers has published a notice to navigation interests and coordinated with marinas, commercial and recreational vessels, and members of the public in advance of the closure of the Ortona Lock for maintenance June 4 through 16.
“We recognize the inconvenience these repairs will cause, and have coordinated with the local marinas and navigation interests in advance of the closures,” said Gary Hipkins, Chief, Navigation and Flood Risk Management, in the South Florida Operations Office located in Clewiston. “This will be the first lock closure along the Okeechobee Waterway in six years. We have to inspect and maintain our locks and replace the gate seals in the same way you would perform periodic maintenance on your vehicle.”
Maintenance is necessary periodically to repair aging and damaged infrastructure, in addition to improving public and vessel safety. Repairs will require the lock chamber to be dewatered for crews to perform inspections, replace gate seals and repair Manatee Protection System (MPS) components. During the closure, barges, floating cranes and divers will be working in the lock entrance, requiring vessel operators in the area to use minimal speed and caution for safety.
Public comments and concerns related to this closure will be accepted until March 31, 2018 and can be emailed to Gary.L.Hipkins@usace.army.mil or mailed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 525 Ridgelawn Road, Clewiston, Florida, 33440 Attn: Gary Hipkins (postmarked by Saturday March 31).
Read the Notice to Navigation Interests: NTN 2018-02 Okeechobee Waterway - Ortona Lock Closure June 2018; Public Comment through March 31: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/Navigation/Notices/NTN2018/NTN2018-02OkeechobeeWaterwayOrtonaLockClosureJune2018.pdf
The Ortona Lock is located on the Caloosahatchee River,15.5 miles west of the Moore Haven Lock on the west side of Lake Okeechobee, and 27.9 miles east of the W.P. Franklin Lock near Olga and Fort Myers. The Ortona Lock and Dam were constructed in 1937 for navigation and flood control purposes. The Ortona Lock is one of five locks located along the 152-mile Okeechobee Waterway, which allows safe passage of vessels from the Atlantic Ocean near Stuart to the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Myers.
Learn more about the Ortona Lock: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/OrtonaLock
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Tags: Caloosahatchee, Ft. Myers, Fort Myers, Jacksonville District, manatee protections system, manatee, navigation, notice to navigation, Ortona Lock, Okeechobee Waterway, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USACE