District announces procedures for safe lockings during COVID-19 pandemic

Boat operators entering AIWW locks, canals must follow CDC coronavirus guidelines

Published April 7, 2020
Updated: April 7, 2020
Work crews remove one of two canal gates for refurbishment at South Mills Lock in North Carolina, Jan. 7, 2020.

Work crews remove one of two canal gates for refurbishment at South Mills Lock in North Carolina, Jan. 7, 2020. The Dismal Swamp Canal route on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway has been temporarily closed due to the $525,000 project, which is being managed by Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s expected to reopen by the end of March. (U.S. Army photo/Vince Little)

NORFOLK, Va. – The Dismal Swamp Canal on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway between North Carolina and Virginia has resumed its normal operating schedule for vessel traffic.

Norfolk District, U.S Army Corps of Engineers closed the locks at South Mills, North Carolina, and Deep Creek shortly after the New Year. Work crews recently completed a major refurbishment project on two South Mills Lock canal gates.

Locks are operated at 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. seven days a week. Drawbridges adjacent to these locations will function as normal and in conjunction with lock openings. Only one operator is available at both Deep Creek and South Mills, so the bridge will not be staffed when the lock is being operated, and vice versa. Lock and bridge personnel monitor Marine Channel 13.

Army Corps officials said vessels and crew entering the locks must comply with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance related to coronavirus. No one is allowed to exit vessels and crew must handle their own lines during transit. Lock operators will provide a pole for lines, as needed, and be standing by for any emergency situation.

Some public docks along the waterway have been closed due to state and local ordinances, Corps officials said. Boaters should plan their trip accordingly.

Current COVID-19 procedures also apply to Great Bridge Lock in Chesapeake, which sits at mile marker 12.2 on the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal.

Updated surveys of the AIWW’s Deep Creek, Dismal Swamp Canal and Turners Cut are available at www.nao.usace.army.mil/HydroSurveys/.

Those planning to use this route are advised to contact the lock operator at 757-547-3311, Norfolk District office at 757-201-7642 or refer to the Coast Guard’s “Local Notice to Mariners” for more information.

The Dismal Swamp Canal, together with the Albemarle and Chesapeake, form the historic Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which provides recreational boaters and commercial shippers a protected inland channel from Norfolk down to Key West, Florida, and north to Eastport, Maine.

Norfolk District provides innovative engineering solutions – in collaboration with partners – to deliver water resources, military, interagency, environmental and disaster-response programs that make communities, the commonwealth of Virginia and nation a better place to work and live.