Locking Through

Procedure for Lockage for Canoes & Kayaks – no paddle boards 

URL for locking through. Go to URL and print a copy of pamphlet. Click on printer icon at upper right. It prints on one page, both sides. 


ALSO, in addition to Pittsburgh District USACE information, here are two videos re locking through:

Locking Through: Know Before You Go!


Locking Through the Dam, How to go through the locks at a dam


The main objective of this is YOUR SAFETY when “locking through”! Navigation locks and dams on Pittsburgh’s three rivers – the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny – are operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lockmaster has full authority over the movement of boats in the lock and its approaches. Please do not get impatient on busy boating days when traffic through the locks is heavy. The lock crews are interested in locking you through – safely – and in your turn. Allow yourself enough time for your trip on days when traffic is heavy. LOCKAGE PRIORITY Here is how the Secretary of the Army has ordered us to pass shipping through the locks: ™ U.S. Military Craft ™ Mail Boats ™ Commercial Passenger ™ Commercial Tows ™ Commercial Fishermen ™ Recreation Boats Sometimes small craft are required to wait and lock through with other craft. FOR YOUR SAFETY RECOGNIZE AND OBEY ALL BUOYS AND MARKERS The main points on passing through a lock are set forth in this pamphlet. However, if you wish a copy of the full regulations governing lockages, you may request them at any lock. SIGNALS USED AT LOCKS Traffic Light Signals Flashing Red Stand clear, do not enter Flashing Amber Approach lock under full control Flashing Green Enter lock Air Horn Signals 1 Long Blast – Enter landward lock 2 Long Blasts – Enter riverward lock 1 Short Blast – Leave landward lock 2 Short Blasts – Leave riverward lock A fixed crest dam is difficult to see from small boats moving downriver since the crest (top of the concrete) is normally covered with flowing water. Be DAM CONSCIOUS and know your location on the river with regard to each dam and lock. Keep a lookout for the “DANGER DAM” signs and the white and orange pillar buoys which mark the dam. But be aware the buoys are not in the river year round and they can move off-station due to river flows. All water immediately above and below each dam are DANGER areas. It is recommended that boaters use Navigation Charts which provide valuable information on the location of the dams and other structures in the river. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District (412) 395-7500 1000 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-418 www.lrp.usace.army.mil CELRPP-1130-1-10 JANUARY 2006 Locking Through THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW IF YOU USE NAVIGATION LOCKS Head your boat directly for the lock. Do not approach spillway sections of the dam! Currents may draw your boat into or over the dam. HOW TO LOCK THROUGH 1. Stay between red and green buoys. They mark the river’s navigable channel. 2. Personal watercraft of the “sit down” variety are allowed to lock through but must enter and depart according to the lock operator’s instructions. The craft must remain stable. The operator must wear a Coast Guard-approved PFD at all times and remain seated when the craft is not in motion. The “stand up” variety of personal watercraft must be tied-off to an approved vessel during approach, lockage and departure with the operator remaining onboard the approved vessel until clear of the lock approach wall. 3. When approaching a lock, wait for the green light and the whistle signal from the lock operator to enter. Boats going downstream should stay in the clear 400 feet upstream from the end of the guide wall while awaiting lockage. This is particularly true if large vessels are about to leave the lock and are headed in your direction. 4. On approaching the lock, boats desiring lockage shall give the following signal at a distance of not more than one mile from the lock: one long blast of the whistle followed by one short blast. Pull cords, which sound an alarm letting the lock operator know that you desire lockage, are provided at the upstream and downstream ends of the lock wall. 5. Traffic signal lights guide you at all navigation locks on the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. They look like automobile traffic lights. 6. The lock operator may, in addition to the traffic lights, signal you with an air horn. 7. Carry aboard at least 75 feet of mooring line. You will need it during lockage to tie your boat safely to the lock wall. If you do not have a proper mooring line you may not be locked. Do not tie up to ladders or recessed mooring pins along the wall. Follow the instructions of the lock operator as to the location where you will moor. 8. Make sure there is a mooring ring or similar device on your boat to which a mooring line can be tied. 9. Small boats with only one person aboard may use one long line securely fastened at one end of the boat with the bight of the line around the mooring post on the lock wall and the free end of the line around a cleat at the other end of the boat. This will allow the person at the free end of the line to pay out or take in mooring as the water level changes. 10. Larger boats should use two separate mooring lines leading from bow to stern to separate mooring posts on the lock wall. This will require a person at each end of the boat to pay out or take in mooring lines as the water level changes. 11. Stand by to pay out or take in mooring line as the water level in the lock rises or falls. 12. In locks with floating mooring bitts you should place your mooring line around the mooring posts on the floating mooring bitt. It will not be necessary for the lock operator to handle your line. 13. Use fenders to save damage to your boat and to lock walls. (Old rope makes good fenders!) 14. Passengers should remain seated in your boat during lockage. 15. Always wear a PFD when it is necessary to handle lines on deck or in rough weather. 16. Lock operators have been given the same authority over your boat in the lock as traffic policemen have over your car at intersections. For your own safety you must obey their instructions. 17. Wait for the lock operator’s signal to leave the lock. Travel at reduced speed on entering and leaving the lock. 18. Keep away from the stern of passing tows. The stern waves are apt to capsize small boats. 19. Avoid passing across the head or line of travel of tows. Tows cannot be maneuvered to change course quickly. 20. Keep away from the head of barges moored along the shore. Small boats may be carried under the barges by the undertow.

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