A ride along the length of the Red River Waterway gives clues to how the river is being put to commercial use. A barge loaded with pressure vessels from Shreveport/Bossier heads for a petrochemical plant in Africa. Multiple barges heavy with military trucks and equipment move downstream from the Port of Alexandria. A shipment of liquid petroleum products heads for a distant distribution site. Barges piled high with aggregate roll past, destined for area road construction projects.
Central Louisiana Regional Port (Alexandria)
Lock & Dams
Feet of Elevation
Locks and Dams
In 1968, Congress authorized the $1.9 billion Red River Waterway Project to add five lock & dam complexes which straightened the Red River’s stream, stabilized its banks, eliminated flooding, and made year-round navigation possible. Completed in 1994, the lock & dams create a stair-step effect on the river, producing controllable pools and passageways for river traffic.
Accompanying bank stabilization work and other enhancements have created a navigation channel with a minimum depth of nine feet and a minimum width of 200 feet. Total lift through the five pool stages on the river is more than 140 feet, the equivalent of a 14-story building.
The locks and dams are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who also supervise continuing bank stabilization work. A U.S. Coast Guard team stationed at the Colfax lock and dam site is responsible for Aids to Navigation along the river, including buoys and mile markers.
In addition to dramatically improving the river’s commercial viability, the lock and dam project has also resulted in vastly enhanced water quality and recreational opportunities. More than $40 million in local and federal funds have been spent along the river’s route to add such amenities as boat launches, picnic areas, campsites, RV parks and hiking trails. These and other complementary developments are giving rise to new businesses that serve the needs of this growing recreational and tourist market.
Why are industries interested in the Red River?
The answer is quite simple: LOCATION
Situated in the heart of the South, the Red River region is accessible to the entire Mississippi River system and Intracoastal Waterway. It also sits amidst a Louisiana Highway system that includes east-west interstate highways I-10 and I-20, as well as north-south Interstate highways I-49, I-55 and I-59. Louisiana railway systems put almost every major city in the United States within 7 days travel.