Broken lock in Alabama takes toll on Columbus Marina

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) “We saw a decrease in our transient traffic because of the closure of the lock, down in Demopolis,” said Steve Arandt, General Manager at the Columbus Marina.

Arandt said the closure of the waterway in Demopolis has taken a huge toll on the way he operates upstream here in Columbus.

“Typically we see from January until June, we will see one, two, or three of the transient boats come through each week. By transient, I mean boats that are generally 40-60 feet. They are traveling north to get away from hurricanes, or they are traveling south to get away from the cold,” said Arandt.

Arandt said while long-distance travel has been impacted, local traffic is more or less business as usual.

“Our small boats like our ski boats and local boats, it has been a normal season because the weather has been warm, and families have been hopping on them enjoying the weekend. As far as the bigger boats, most of them really are not moving,” said Arandt.

Arandt said the damage at Demopolis has siphoned off his fuel sales.

“We saw probably a 90% decrease in our fuel sales in those boats because they were not running. We did have a few boats that were here when the lot closed, that decided to stay here for a couple of months. They could have gone south of Demopolis, but they like Columbus so they decided to stay here,” said Arandt.

Now that the lock is starting to reopen, he anticipates things at the Columbus Marina getting back to normal.

“I expect to have a strong June, simply because most of the boats that were not able to move because of the closure, I think they will start to move now that it is opening up again. There are some boats that simply will not travel because of it, I will say that we will probably see about 60 to 70% of the traffic that we would have seen for the first four months, we will see that in June,” said Arandt.

The Demopolis lock reopened on May 16, exactly four months after the breach happened.

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