U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jul 15, 2024

§ 207.420 - Chicago River, Ill.; Sanitary District controlling works, and the use, administration, and navigation of the lock at the mouth of river, Chicago Harbor.

(a) Controlling works. The controlling works shall be so operated that the water level in the Chicago River will be maintained at a level lower than that of the lake, except in times of excessive storm run-off into the river or when the level of the lake is below minus 2 feet, Chicago City Datum.

(1) The elevation to be maintained in the Chicago River at the west end of the lock will be determined from time to time by the U.S. District Engineer, Chicago, Illinois. It shall at no time be higher than minus 0.5 foot, Chicago City Datum, and at no time lower than minus 2.0 feet, Chicago City Datum, except as noted in the preceding paragraph.

(b) Lock—(1) Operation. The lock shall be operated by the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Chicago under the general supervision of the U.S. District Engineer, Chicago, Illinois. The lock gates shall be kept in the closed position at all times except for the passage of navigation.

(2) Description of lock.

Clear length600
Clear width80
Depth over sills 1 24.4

1 This depth is below Chicago City Datum which is the zero of the gages mounted on the lock. The clear depth below Low Water Datum for Lake Michigan, which is the plane of reference for U. S. Lake Survey Charts, is 23.0 feet.

The east end of the northeast guide wall shall be marked by an intermittent red light, and by a traffic light showing a fixed red or fixed green light. The west end of the northwest gate block shall be marked by a traffic light showing a fixed red or fixed green light. The east end of the southeast guide wall and the west end of the southwest guide wall shall be marked by an intermittent white light.

(3) Authority of lockmasters. The lockmaster shall be charged with the immediate control and management of the lock, and of the area set aside as the lock area, including the lock approach channels. He shall see that all laws, rules and regulations for the use of the lock and lock area are duly complied with, to which end he is authorized to give all necessary orders and directions in accordance therewith, both to employees of the Government and to any and every person within the limits of the lock or lock area, whether navigating the lock or not. No one shall cause any movement of any vessel, boat, or other floating thing in the lock or approaches except by or under the direction of the lockmaster or his assistants.

(4) Signals. (i) Signals from vessels for lockage shall be by whistle, horn or by idling or standing near the ends of the lock guide walls. Signals from the lockmaster shall be by the traffic light and horn and/or by voice with or without electrical amplification. In case of emergency, the lockmaster may signal the vessel by wave of hand or lantern, and the signals thus given shall have the same weight as though given by visual or sound devices at the lock. Vessels must approach the lock with caution and shall not enter or leave the lock until signaled to do so by the lockmaster. The following lockage signals and duration of sound signals are prescribed. A long blast shall be of 4 second duration; a short blast shall be of 1 second duration.

(a) Vessel signals. Inbound vessels at a distance of not more than 4,000 feet from the lock and outbound vessels immediately after crossing under the Lake Shore Drive bridge shall signal for lockage by 2 long and 2 short blasts of a whistle or horn.

(b) Lock signals. (1) When the lock is ready for entrance, the traffic light will show green, and vessels under 500 gross tons shall come ahead under caution and enter the lock; vessels of 500 gross tons or more shall come to a stop along the guide wall, as prescribed in paragraph (b)(5) of this section. Should the traffic light be out of order or be invisible due to thick weather, vessels shall upon 1 long blast of the lock horn approach and moor to the south guide wall or continue into the lock if so directed by the lockmaster.

(2) When the lock is not ready for entrance, the traffic light will show red, and vessels shall not pass beyond the end of the south guide wall: Provided, however, That vessels may approach and moor to said wall if authorized by 1 long blast of the lock horn.

(3) Permission to leave the lock shall be indicated by 1 short blast of the lock horn.

(4) Caution or danger will be indicated by 4 or more flashes of the red traffic light or 4 or more short blasts of the lock horn delivered in rapid succession.

(ii) When in the lock, vessels shall not blow whistle signals for tugs, bridges, landings, etc., without the lockmaster's permission.

(iii) The master and chief engineer of each vessel of 500 gross tons or more shall be on duty at their respective stations when passing through the lock.

(5) Stop before entering. All vessels or tows of 500 gross tons or more shall come to a full stop at the point indicated by the sign reading “Stop” on the south guide wall and shall not proceed into the lock until so directed by the lockmaster.

(6) Maximum draft. Vessels drawing within 6 inches of the depth over the sills shall not be permitted lockage except under special permission from the lockmaster.

(7) Precedence at locks. The vessel arriving first at a lock shall be first to lock through; but precedence shall be given to vessels belonging to the United States and to commercial vessels in the order named. Arrival posts or markers may be established ashore above or below the locks. Vessels arriving at or opposite such posts or markers will be considered as having arrived at the locks within the meaning of this paragraph.

(8) Lockage of pleasure boats. The lockage of pleasure boats, house boats or like craft shall be expedited by locking them through with commercial craft (other than barges carrying petroleum products or highly hazardous materials) in order to utilize the capacity of the lock to its maximum. If, after the arrival of such craft, no separate or combined lockage can be accomplished within a reasonable time, not to exceed the time required for three other lockages, then separate lockage shall be made.

(9) Speed of approach and departure. Vessels of 500 gross tons or more when approaching the lock shall navigate at a speed not exceeding 2 miles per hour, and when leaving the lock shall navigate at a speed not exceeding 6 miles per hour. While entering or leaving the lock, the propellers of vessels of 500 gross tons or more shall be operated at slow speed so as not to undermine or injure the concrete paving on the bottom of the lock chamber. Tugs assisting vessels in lockage, and Coast Guard and fire vessels, may navigate at a higher speed when authorized by the lockmaster. Vessels of less than 500 gross tons shall operate at reasonable speed.

(10) Mooring. (i) Vessels shall be moored in the lock or along its approach walls in such manner as may be directed by the lockmaster. Tying to lock ladders, lamp standards, or railings is strictly prohibited. Commercial vessels and tows of 500 gross tons or more shall, in general, have at least one line out when entering the lock and shall be moored in the lock with two bow and two stern lines, which shall lead forward and aft at each end of the vessel or tow. When the gates are closed, commercial vessels shall not be permitted to work their wheels. Said vessels shall have at least two seamen ashore to handle the mooring lines while they are in the lock.

(ii) Mooring lines shall not be cast off until after the lock gates have been opened fully into their recesses, and the signal given to leave the lock. The lines leading aft shall be released first. The lines leading forward shall not be released until the vessel has started to move forward, so as to prevent the vessel from drifting back into the lock gates.

(11) [Reserved]

(12) Unnecessary delay at lock. Masters and pilots must use every precaution to prevent unnecessary delay in entering of leaving the lock. Vessels failing to enter lock with reasonable promptness, when signaled to do so, shall lose their turn. Vessels arriving at the lock with their tows in such shape so as to impede lockage, shall lose their turn.

(13) Depositing refuse prohibited. The depositing of ashes or refuse matter of any kind in the lock; the passing of coal from barges or flats while in the lock; and the emission of dense smoke from any vessel while passing through the lock, is forbidden.

(14) Vessels denied lockage. The lockmaster may deny the privilege of passage through the lock to any vessel with sharp or rough projecting surfaces of any kind, or overhanging rigging, or any vessel which is badly leaking or in a sinking condition.

(15) Fenders. All barges and oil tankers must be provided with suitable nonmetallic fenders so as to eliminate damage to the lock or approach walls and reduce fire hazard. Said fenders shall be used as may be directed by the lockmaster.

(16) Operating machinery. Lock employees only shall be permitted to operate the lock gates, valves, signals or other appliances. Tampering or meddling with machinery or other parts of the lock is strictly forbidden.

(17) [Reserved]

(18) Vessels to carry regulations. A copy of the regulations in this section shall be kept at all times on board each vessel regularly engaged in navigating this lock. Copies may be obtained without charge from the lockmaster.

(19) Failure to comply with regulations. Any vessel failing to comply with this section or any orders given in pursuance thereof, may in the discretion of the lockmaster be denied the privilege of passage through or other use of the lock or appurtenant structures.

[3 FR 2139, Sept. 1, 1938, as amended at 25 FR 8908, Sept. 16, 1960; 26 FR 354, Jan. 18, 1961; 44 FR 67657, Nov. 27, 1979; 56 FR 13765, Apr. 4, 1991]