Illinois Waterway Lock Contact Information

  • T.J. O’Brien: 773-646-2183
  • Lockport: 815-838-0536
  • Brandon Road: 815-744-1714
  • Dresden: 815-942-0840
  • Marseilles: 815-795-2593
  • Starved Rock: 815-667-4114
  • Peoria: 309-699-6111
  • La Grange: 217-225-3317


Current Status

Available funds will be used for routine lock operations and maintenance, water management, dam safety monitoring, and environmental compliance.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding in the amount of $5,000,000 will be used for construction and engineering oversight of the upper vertical lift gate and emergency lift gate replacement contract. This funding will also be used to start plans and specifications for the installation of the gates.

Project Description and Background

Opened in 1933, Lockport Lock & Dam is 35 miles downstream of T.J O’Brien Lock & Dam. The facility is a unit of the Inland Waterway Navigation System and is one of eight such facilities between Chicago and Versailles, Illinois. The lock is 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. Maximum vertical lift is 42.0 feet; the average lift is 39 feet. It averages 22.5 minutes to fill the lock chamber and 15 minutes to empty.

The Lockport Dam consists of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) lock, powerhouse and associated controlling works. The MWRD, through Congressional action, transferred the maintenance responsibilities of the substructures and support structures to the Corps in the early 1980s for the roughly forty-five-foot-high embankment, controlling works, powerhouse substructures, and all pool retention structures. The Corps controls the lock; however, has no ownership of the controlling works. A major rehabilitation of the lock was completed in 2017 at a cost of $150,280,294.

Project Authorization

Rivers and Harbors Acts of 1927 & 1930

Locking Through

Safety is the prime consideration when locking any type of vessel through a lock. Operators must require all passengers to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket. As you approach a lock on the Illinois Waterway, you must inform the lock operators of your desire to pass and they, in turn, will indicate to you when it is safe to proceed into the lock. There are several methods of communication with the lock personnel, as follows:

  • Radio:  Is the preferred method of making contact with the lock on the Illinois Waterway. If your vessel is equipped with a two-way radio, please establish contact with the lock on VHF (FM) Channel 14 with the exception of T.J. O’Brien which monitors VHF (FM) 16. The lock will then move you to their working channel if required. Do this well in advance of your arrival at the lock so that the passage of all vessels may be facilitated, and allow the operator time to prepare the lock.
  • Cell Phone: Cell phones may be used to contact the lock when within sight of the lock. Please keep in mind lock operators are very busy and are not always able to answer the phone.
  • Pull Ropes: Pull ropes which sound an alarm letting the lock operator know that you desire lockage, are provided at the upstream and downstream ends of the lock guide wall. Please be advised most locks on the Illinois Water Way no longer have pull ropes, you will have to utilize the radio or call via phone.  
  • Once you have made contact with lock personnel you will be instructed by traffic lights, air horn signals, and/or marine radio.
  • Light Signals: Red and green signal lights are located at both ends of the lock. A red signal indicates that the lock is closed in your direction and you should wait for the lock operator to give you the green light before you proceed into the lock. The green signal means that you have been cleared to enter the lock chamber, unless you have been informed by the lock operator that you are required to yield to a commercial vessel. Proceed only when the signal light is green and enter the lock at a slow NO WAKE speed. The lock personnel will direct you toward one of the lock walls and provide mooring instructions. Furthermore, many Illinois Waterway locks utilize a strobe light at the lock to signal recreation type vessels that the lock is ready for entry. Such lights are used exclusively to signal recreation craft.
  • Air Horn/Whistle Signals: Vessels desiring passage through a lock shall notify the lock operator by one long blast followed by one short blast of a horn, whistle, or megaphone, when within one mile from the lock. When the lock is ready for entrance, the lock operator shall reply with  one long blast of a horn, whistle or calls through a megaphone to enter the landward chamber or two long blasts of a horn, whistle, or calls through a megaphone to enter the riverward chamber in the case of twin locks. When the lock is not ready for entrance, the lock operator shall reply by four or more short distinct blasts of a horn, whistle, or call through a megaphone (danger signal). Permission to leave the lock shall be indicated by the lock operator by one short blast in the case of a single lock or to leave the landward chamber in the case of twin locks. Two short blasts indicates permission to leave the riverward chamber in the case of twin locks.

Obey all the instructions of the lock personnel. Your total time in the lock will be approximately 30 minutes. The pool in the lock chamber will be raised or lowered about 15 feet depending on which lock you are in on the Illinois Waterway. When the pool reaches the proper level, the gates will be opened for your departure. Please wait for the lock operator's signal to release your line and exit the lock at a slow NO WAKE speed.

Lockages for pleasure craft will be conducted upon request, however, any transiting craft take priority. If no other traffic is present at the lock, the pleasure craft may be locked as soon as feasible in the auxiliary lock. If a delay is apparent, the pleasure craft will be informed of the approximate length of the delay. The lock operator will advise the pleasure craft whether conditions permit it to approach the lock and moor alongside walls or whether it is to stay clear of the approach. Pleasure crafts may be locked through with transiting crafts at the lock operator’s discretion.

Locking Times:  The Illinois Waterway operates 365 days a year. Locks are Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Navigating the Channel: Stay between red and green buoys. They mark the river’s navigational channel. The Illinois Waterway is approximately 336 miles long and has 8 locks along the waterway.  

Project Manager

Jeff Zuercher

Project Location

Lockport, Illinois, 291 river miles above the confluence of the Illinois River with the Mississippi River at Grafton, Illinois

Project Area / Photos

Click map to enlarge.