Barge gate at surge barrier opens, but not without incident

They’re getting closer, but this ain’t horseshoes.

That was the verdict by the local flood protection authority this week after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the first open-close-open circuit of the now-infamous barge gate on the Lake Borgne Storm Surge Barrier at the Intracoastal Waterway.

Equipment failures didn’t stop the procedure as has happened in all previous tries since the structure was installed more than a year ago. But an oil leak spotted during the cycle forced postponement of further testing and cost the gate a passing grade from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.

“It was certainly opened and closed for the first time,” said Bob Turner, regional director of the flood authority. “But it wasn’t without issues, because of the oil leak.

“So we would consider a totally successful opening and closing when we’re able to do it without problems.

“And that’s what we’re all working toward.”

Chris Gilmore, the corps’ senior project manager, said by email that the oil was determined to be leaking from “the sight glass on the closing windlass brake system.”

He said the contractor, Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, expected to have the problem fixed by the end of this week.

This story was reported by The Lens http://thelensnola.org/, an independent, nonprofit newsroom serving New Orleans.

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Tricky ‘barge gate’ on Lake Borgne is closed and opened successfully — almost