The Kentucky River Authority announced last weekend that repairs to Lock Four at Frankfort have been successfully completed and tested. This means that the Capital City is once again connected by water to downstream locations for the first time since damage closed the facility two years ago. The lock will be open each Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. through Labor Day.
Steve Reeder, Executive Director of the Kentucky River Authority (KRA) met with several riverfront development committee members and other river champions at Lock Four yesterday. Mr. Reeder told the group, "To put this in perspective: connecting these two pools is three miles longer than Lake Herrington. It is forty miles of river on which to cruise or paddle and much safer than Lake Herrington." Mayor Gippy Graham was one of those present and he expressed his gratitude to Mr. Reeder, "I am very grateful to you and the KRA for opening this initial leg of our dream to once again be open to the Ohio River. We are hoping nothing derails your plans to open Locks One through Four within the next two years." Magistrate Phillip Kring echoed these thoughts, "We certainly do appreciate KRA and it shows so clearly what we can accomplish when we work together in this first of many, many accomplishments."
Another Riverfront Development member, Ed Councill stated, "I am looking forward to sharing this tremendous natural asset with our guests, it's been too long since we have reconnected with the River." Last Saturday was a special day. After several years of rhetoric, politics, and good ol' "wheel-squeaking," Lock Four in Frankfort was reopened for business. Ed Councill reports, "During that first day I saw about 14 boats of all descriptions 'lock through' to Pool Three. A $36,000 gate sill cement job paid for by the Kentucky River Authority was all it took to reconnect Kentucky's Capital to downstream destinations. Eventually, it will open the river to the Ohio, Mississippi, and the Gulf at New Orleans."
As members of the Kentucky Riverfront Development Committee, whose plan is based on using the River as an asset for economic development, met they were ecstatic with this news. Rodney Simpson is quoted as saying, "This is the best news the local boaters could get. We've worked and waited for this day, now we need to get the word out that it is open" Joy Jeffries added, "Wait until we get the locks open clear to the Ohio River; we'll once again have boaters filling our river, our restaurants, and our hotels on weekends as they did in years past.
There will be opportunities to stop and observe major landmarks like Buffalo Trace, their boat ramp and trails, Leestown, the former Bellepoint City Hall, Franks Ford itself, Benson Creek and its role as convergence of Kentucky's original three counties, the Farmers' Market, Liberty Hall garden, Corner of Celebrities' neighborhood, the new library, old Federal Courthouse and Customs Building recently acquired by Kentucky State University, the Frankfort Boat Dock, the bridges of Downtown Frankfort, and even Daniel Boone's grave marker in the distance on the bluff above the city. Curator for the City of Frankfort, Nicky Hughes summed it all up when he said, "I've got a dam history tour all ready to go ... through the locks."