The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday it is limiting public access to all navigation locks on the Tenenssee River in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in America.
The Nashville District office of the Corps said it has suspended unescorted public access to the Wilson Lock, where the public previously could view boats going through the lock, and is rolling back plans to provide more public access at other locks, including the Nickajack and Guntersville locks downstream of Chattanooga.
"In light of recent events both worldwide and here in the United States, the Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority both agreed that a precautionary review of our security and public access policies was warranted," Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, the Nashville District commander, said in a statement.
The Corps originally restricted access to its locks following the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York as a security precaution. District officials reopened Wilson Lock in May 2014 following security enhancements and had been moving toward opening up other locks on the river.
Corps spokesman Lee Roberts said there has been no specific threat to any lock on the Tennessee River, but the move was being made out of abundance of caution until TVA and the Corps review security procedures. The change will not impact use of the Tennessee River of the locks along the mainstream dams on the river, Roberts said.
The move is also indefinite in duration and Roberts said the Corps is still eager to open the locks for public tours and reviews.
"We still think it is valuable for the public to view our locks and see how their taxpayer dollars are being spent, and we hope we can do that again in the future," he said.
Escorted group tours are still allowed by contacting the appropriate lockmaster in advance for guidance and availability.