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Longer Hours Sought for Calcasieu Barrier

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and city of Lake Charles, La., want the Corps of Engineers to increase daily service hours at the Calcasieu River Saltwater Barrier for recreational boaters. The open hours were reduced in December from 16 to 12 because of a drop in federal funding to the Inland Marine Transportation System.

The barrier's curent service hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Local boaters want it to stay pen later during weekends and in summer months.

Last December, a spokesperson for the New Orleans Engineer District said that locks and dams are given one of six levels of service based on the amount of commercial traffic they see. The Calcasieu River Saltwater Barrier had 389 commercial lockages in 2011, putting it under Level 3 service, or eight to 12 daily service hours.

But the barrier had nearly 14,000 recreational lockages in 2011. Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach told loca media that the barrier's limited hours affect the city's downtown development efforts.

"It's not just a recreational boating issue," he said. "We recently investd in a marina, and that is part of a plan to make the lakefront an attraction in the downtown area. It is important to be able to access the marina and enjoy the waterways."

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