Twin Cities Locks and Dams, Level of Service

Tow in Upper St. Anthony Falls lock

2013 lockage service hours

Upper & Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam

8 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Lock & Dam 1

3 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Constrained funding and the Nation’s fiscal deficit have led to reduced Operations and Maintenance funding within the Corps Inland Marine Transportation System (IMTS). When coupled with deteriorating infrastructure and increasing costs of operation, it became clear that the level of service the Corps has been providing at some locks and dams is not sustainable.

The three locks and dams in the Twin Cities (Upper St. Anthony Falls (USAF), Lower St. Anthony Falls (LSAF), and Lock and Dam 1 (LD1) are part of the Corps’ IMTS consisting of 12,000 miles of inland waterways and more than 200 locks and dams.

The IMTS Board of Directors approved guidance that established six levels of operational service for all IMTS locks. The criteria were based on the number of commercial lockages and tonnage that passed through the locks on an annual basis.


Status [from March 2013 Information Paper]

Based on the IMTS guidance, these three locks and dams transitioned from service level 1 to service level 2 in March 2013. The hours of operation were: USAF & LSAF open at 8 a.m. and close at 3 a.m. with LD 1 open at 3 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. each day during the navigation season. As a part of this effort, hours of operation and staffing during the non-navigation season were also reduced. 

The following summarizes the 2013 data for these locks and dams:

 Lock Commercial
 USAF  581  549
 LSAF  1,365  470
 LD1  661  864

Based on the IMTS guidance, locks passing more than 1,000 commercial lockages per year should be operating at a service level 1 (24 hours per day/7 days per week).

Navigation stakeholders concurred with this proposal at meetings on May 16, 2012, and January 17, 2013. Stakeholders included Minneapolis terminal operators, commercial tow companies, cruise tour vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and emergency responders.

There continues to be political pressure to further reduce hours of operation and limit recreational lockages at these three locks to control the spread of Asian carp.


The fiscal year 2013 operational cost for these three locks and dams was $2.57 million. The estimated annual savings from implementing the proposed reduced level of service is $770,000.