Columbia River commerce halts for extended period for annual outage

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The Dalles Dam Navigation Lock Repair from March 15th, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – Commerce moving up and down the Columbia River, which is a $23 billion industry, will be at a stand-still for up to five weeks beginning Feb. 13. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) closes its navigation locks on the Columbia and Snake river dams on an annual basis for maintenance and repairs; however, this year the Corps is extending the closure an extra three weeks – in part – to repair the downstream miter gate at The Dalles.

Engineers will also perform annual maintenance on the navigation locks at Bonneville Dam (ending March 12) and John Day Dam (ending March 5) during the outage. 

Technicians found damage at The Dalles navigation lock during last year’s planned closure, forcing an emergency extended outage. Engineers will perform repairs during the five-week closure, which will end March 19.

“These series of locks on the Lower Columbia are a vital piece of transportation infrastructure – the highway that moves our regions exports,” said Kym Anderson, Portland District Operations Division chief. “Keeping the locks maintained during scheduled outages ensures that these systems stay open on a reliable schedule. We actively communicate any changes in our operating status to all river users to minimize impacts to navigation in this system.”

Anyone interested in status updates for the work at The Dalles Dam can do so on a regular basis, starting January 19 at 2:30 p.m.

Dates & Times: January 19; February 2, 9, 16 and 23; and March 2, 9 and 16

Link: https://usace1.webex.com/meet/david.a.tucker

Phone: 1-844-800-2712

Access Code: 1993 59 4598

Portland District navigation locks on the Columbia River are located at Bonneville Dam at river mile 145, The Dalles Dam at river mile 191 and John Day Dam at river mile 216.

Typically, Portland and Walla Walla districts send a single closure update, but with closures ending at various times, each district is announcing its own outages. You can find Walla Walla’s outage information, here: https://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/2900498/22-005-columbia-and-snake-river-navigation-locks-will-close-in-february-for-ann/.

To maintain safe and reliable passage through this valuable navigation system, the Corps coordinates the annual lock closures with inland shippers and cruise lines to minimize impacts to those users. For Portland District navigation lock information, visit www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation.

Portland District locks on the Columbia River pass 10 million of the 50.5 million tons of commerce shipped annually in the nation. Navigation is Portland District’s oldest mission, dating back to 1871.

The Columbia River is the number one U.S. export gateway for wheat and barley, the number two U.S. export gateway for corn and soy, and the number one U.S. export gateway for West Coast mineral bulk. The Columbia River system is also a national leader for wood exports and auto imports and exports. As far as tourism dollars go, approximately 15,000 passengers a year go through on cruise ships, which accounts for $15 to 20 million in revenue for local economies. 

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