Unexpected damage extends navigation lock outage at The Dalles Dam

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THE DALLES – Ore. Technicians inspecting the navigation lock at The Dalles Dam found cracking in the downstream miter gate during an annual inspection March 10. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials believe vibration, improper sealing and gate misalignment likely caused the damage.

The damage and repairs will extend the navigation lock outage until April 1 at 5:00 p.m. Portland and Walla Walla districts are in the middle of a planned, system-wide lock outage of all the locks on the Columbia and Snake rivers, which was originally scheduled for March 6-21.

The Corps will be holding virtual, telephonic repair and outage status updates starting Thursday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. Additional updates will be held on Mondays and Thursdays until the lock is back in service.

“This is why we have annual outages and inspections for the system of locks within Portland and Walla Walla districts,” said Ross Foster, Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager. “We’re grateful we identified this issue now, as opposed to a different part of the year where closing the lock would have a larger impact on river traffic.”

“We understand the critical importance these locks have on commerce moving along the Columbia River,” said Kevin Brice, Portland District deputy district engineer. “We’re going to do everything we can to reopen the locks to river traffic as soon as possible. The importance of this vital transportation corridor is not lost on us and our main goal is to minimize impacts on river users.”

The Dalles navigation lock, completed in 1957, is 650 feet long and is 86 feet wide. On an average day, around six commercial vessels pass through the lock.

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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