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An Uncertain Future for the Cape Fear River's Lock and Dams

The Army Corps of Engineers is looking into the possibility of disposing of or removing the locks and dams in the Cape Fear River.

Corps officials will determine whether the federal agency should take no action, deauthorize Locks and Dams 1, 2 and 3 and hand them over to a non-federal entity, such as the state or local governments, or demolish the structures.

The Corps launched a so-called disposition study earlier this year because the locks and dams, built decades ago to maintain a navigable channel for commercial barges traveling from Wilmington to Fayetteville, are no longer needed for the purpose in which they were constructed.

Commercial use ceased in 1995, according to Lisa Parker, chief public affairs officer of the Corps’ Wilmington District.

“Occasional recreational and small-scale sight-seeing lockages have occurred,” Parker wrote in an email responding to questions.

Maintaining the locks and dams, which were built between 1915 and 1935, costs the Corps about $800,000 a year and refurbishing them would be a “considerable investment.”

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