Corps' plan to close lock could keep boaters away on 4th of July - WSMV Channel 4

Corps' plan to close lock could keep boaters away on 4th of July

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Just when you thought it was over, the sequestration has struck again, and this time it could disrupt hundreds of people's Fourth of July plans.

In years past, boaters could take the lock at the Old Hickory Dam to travel downstream to Riverfront Park in Nashville to watch the fireworks.

But the Army Corps of Engineers is cutting off access to the lock this year, potentially stranding those boats.

David Hartley and his family were looking forward to watching Nashville's annual fireworks display from their house boat this year.

"Lots of times, we'll grill out on the river, take the grandkids," Hartley said.

Just about every year, he heads downstream from Blackjack Marina through the Old Hickory Dam lock to get to the riverfront.

However, this year, he was forced to cancel those plans.

"Annoying. It's troubling," Hartley said.

The Army Corps of Engineers announced it will close the lock at 10 p.m. Thursday, right around the same time the fireworks show is scheduled to begin.

That will potentially leave hundreds of boaters high and dry.

Any boat, commercial or recreational, not in the lock by 9:15 p.m. won't get through.

And barges take priority, meaning recreational boaters will have to get back to the lock even earlier if they want to get through.

"We don't have enough time to get back from downtown before the lock closes," Hartley said.

Doug Markham, with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said the Corps usually keeps the lock open until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. to accommodate all the boats heading back to Sumner County.

But because of federal cuts, the Corps can't afford the overtime.

"It's going to be a great inconvenience," Markham said. "If they're going to come through that dam, they're either going to have to come home before the celebration starts or they're going to have to figure out a way to get downstream - maybe go to one of the boat ramps downstream."

The Corps announced Monday that boats will be allowed to stay tied down for the night at the dock after the fireworks show is over and everyone clears out, but the operators won't be allowed to leave their boats.

The lock will reopen Friday at 6 a.m.

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