FRANKFORT — The Kentucky River lock in Frankfort that has allowed boats to move up and down the river since before the Civil War will continue operating.
The Kentucky River Authority decided Tuesday to spend $1.25 million on a "low-end renovation" that is expected to give the old lock another decade or so of life.
"This is a good move for all of Kentucky today, not just Frankfort," said Joy Jeffries of the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism Commission, which had supported the move.
The vote on Lock and Dam No. 4 was followed by another that gave some hope for Lock and Dam No. 10 at Boonesborough State Park.
A lock allows boats to move between water levels above and below dams.
Part of the vote on No. 4 in Frankfort involved undoing a vote the river authority board took in a September meeting.
In that vote, it decided to put concrete barriers across the Frankfort lock and the three locks between the capital city and the Ohio River. The locks were built in the late 1830s, and the latter three are in such bad shape that the river authority leaves them closed.
On Tuesday, river authority board member Donald Haney, who made the motion last month, said his notes showed that he wanted to authorize blocking those locks "as needed" but not necessarily right away.
Tuesday's vote called for repairing No. 4 in Frankfort and blocking the others as needed. Stephen Reeder, the river authority's executive director, said the locks do not appear to need immediate action, and that the agency didn't have the $500,000 it could cost for each one.
Money for fixing the lock at No. 4 comes from funds appropriated by the General Assembly that are being used to replace Lock and Dam No. 3 at Monterey. The winning bid for that project was less than had been budgeted.
The KRA gets most of its money from fees paid by utilities and companies that draw water from the river. Its policy is to spend that money on repairing dams to protect water supply but not on locks, which are used by recreational boaters.
An $800,000 concrete barrier had been planned across No. 10 at Boonesborough. No. 10 was a favorite of boaters until it closed several years ago.
At the urging of board member Claire Sipple of Winchester, the river authority decided to take that money out of the budget to allow time to study the feasibility of a relatively inexpensive fix for that lock.
No. 4 in Frankfort was the only lock that operated last summer, but it was opened only for three weekends late in the summer. It had been clogged by trees and other debris that washed into the river after last winter's ice storm.
Frankfort tourism officials and boaters say they eventually would like to see all the locks reopened. But No. 9 at Valley View, which holds Lexington's water supply, has been replaced by a dam that has no lock.