Boaters who usually access the Independence Day Riverfront fireworks show by going through Old Hickory Lock will have to find another way this year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced Monday that the lock, which allows boaters to move from the Old Hickory reservoir to waters that lead to the Riverfront, will not be staffed.
USACE initially announced plans to go back to normal hours of operation in June due to limited funding.
“Historically, the Nashville district has utilized overtime labor to accommodate lockages of vessels outside of normal business hours,” Operations Division Chief Diane Parks said in the June 5 press release.
“However, we are having to strictly adhere to our posted hours of operation and avoid the use of overtime to come into compliance with the Department of Army policy regarding overtime during the fiscal 2013 sequestration,” she added.
The normal operating hours apply to all navigation locks along the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, but the Old Hickory location has the largest potential impact to boaters' holiday plans.
According to Monday's release, boats heading downstream will be allowed into the lock chamber until 9:15 p.m., but will not be able to return through the lock until the next morning.
Many boaters on Old Hickory Lake Monday afternoon told Nashville's News 2 they don't travel downtown on the holiday because of limited visibility as boaters race to get back to the lock on time.
The earlier cutoff may force some boaters to stay closer to home.
“It'll probably keep a lot of day boaters from going and seeing fireworks, because they don't have the option of staying on their boat comfortably,” said Daniel Wolfard, boater and co-owner of Drakes Creek Marina.
He continued, “People that go and they have a larger boat, most of the time they stay the night anyways. So I don't think it's going to make a difference for them, but they're also not the ones trying to race back at night.”
The corps is advising boaters heading to the Riverfront area from Old Hickory to use one of several boat ramps below Old Hickory Dam and Lock.
Festivities for “Let Freedom Sing,” the 4th of July event at Riverfront Park, begin at noon. Fireworks begin at 9:45 p.m.
For a complete list of ramps below Old Hickory Dam and Lock, click here.