Two transportation experts from Michigan are disputing the projected costs of blocking the Illinois Waterway, as claimed by Illinois and government officials.
According to the LA Times article, more than 3800 loaded barges pass through the O'Brien Lock yearly, which is located on the Calumet river and is the primary shipping channel connecting the Great Lakes to the Illinois River.
The two analysts claim that the $70 million loss to trade of transferring cargo by truck or rail over the closed lock is small in comparison to the $7 billion fishing industry which will be devastated if Asian Carp make it upstream into Lake Michigan.
If the lock is closed, I have my doubts that cargo will simply be transferred from barge to truck to boat to hurdle over the barrier. Closing the lock will disrupt barge and towboat traffic along the canal, but how much of the traffic passing through the lock is headed for distant ports? The barges of the canal are not headed out onto Lake Michigan, and the great ocean-going ships are too large to head very far downstream. How much cargo really will be affected if the locks are closed?
One other type of traffic that will be affected if the locks are closed are the pleasure boats and tour boats. And will the Chicago Harbor Lock at the mouth of the Chicago River be affected as well? Tour boat operators are fighting against closing the locks as well.