The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has closed all the navigation locks on the Columbia and Snake Rivers through March 20, 2017 to conduct critical major repairs, routine maintenance, and improvements. The closure will affect all navigation locks, meaning no traffic will be able to pass during this time. The extended lock outage plan is a coordinated effort between the Corps’ Portland and Walla Walla districts.
“Our goal is to prioritize and accomplish urgently needed lock repairs along the Columbia and Snake rivers while minimizing the impact lock closures have on river users,” the Corps said. “To maximize maintenance opportunities at all of our locks, additional work items may be added within the extended-outage schedule, dependent upon available resources. We will continue to keep stakeholders and the public informed with periodic progress updates and news releases announcing significant milestones.”
Critical major repairs, routine maintenance and improvements will include:
Bonneville Lock and Dam – The navigation lock controls will be updated, which includes removing existing navigation lock systems and control interfaces and installing new redundant systems with important safety elements. The navigation lock will be dewatered during the extended lock outage. The modernized equipment will improve automated functions and make the controls easier to use for navigation lock operators.
The Dalles Lock and Dam – The upstream gate and critical portions of the navigation lock controls require replacement. The downstream gate was replaced during the fiscal year 2011 (FY11) extended lock outage. The gudgeon anchors, however, were not included during the FY11 closure and will be replaced during the fiscal year 2017 (FY17) extended lock outage, the Corps said.
John Day Lock and Dam – Portland District has no extensive repairs planned for the John Day navigation lock. Maintenance crews will use the time to clean and check equipment, paint, clean staff gauges, change gear box fluids, repair upstream and downstream guidewall preventive maintenance and conduct dam safety inspections. The John Day Dam will not be dewatered lower than the chamber floor.
McNary Lock and Dam – Walla Walla District plans to complete downstream miter gate repairs that were delayed in order to return the lock to service on schedule during the 2015 annual maintenance outage.
Ice Harbor Lock and Dam – A very high priority for the Walla Walla District is new operating machinery for the downstream gate at Ice Harbor. Critical components of the machinery require complete replacement during the extended closure.
Lower Monumental Lock and Dam – A new downstream lock gate was installed at Lower Monumental during the FY11 extended maintenance closure. The second phase of this installation is the replacement of the mechanical gear that operates the gate. The newly installed downstream gate is heavier than the original, and the existing gears have reached the end of their service life.
Little Goose Lock and Dam – Following an emergency outage in 2014 to repair a failing gudgeon arm, additional work is required during the FY17 outage to complete replacement of the aging components of the gate. This project will involve replacement of the remaining original gudgeon arm and linkage, replacement of the pintle assembly for both gate leafs. Structural repairs will include resurfacing the quoin and miter and crack repairs to structural members. Repairs are critical to ensure reliable gate operation.
Lower Granite Lock and Dam – Although Lower Granite does not have large-contract repairs planned, Corps maintenance personnel will conduct annual routine lock maintenance and repairs during the scheduled outage. As this schedule is refined, updates will be provided. Non-routine work includes replacing the upstream gate wire ropes.
“The Columbia-Snake federal navigation system is vital to the economic health of the Pacific Northwest. As part of the Corps’ mission, the Walla Walla and Portland districts have been maintaining safe navigation through the system of locks and dams since their installation beginning in the 1930s,” the Corps said. “Because of the age and reliability of these structures, major work is necessary to extend their serviceability as essential links along the commercial navigation route from the Pacific Ocean 465 miles inland to Lewiston, Idaho.”
The navigation system is the top wheat-export gateway in the nation.
The Corps said planning milestones, contract awards, fabrication and pre-outage staging work occurred on schedule since the Corps officially announced the extended outage in May 2015, giving commercial navigation businesses and their customers maximum time to prepare for the locks to be out of service.
Drawing from effective communications experiences during the 2010-2011 extended navigation lock outage, and keeping an open ear to the inland navigation industry, the Corps invited commercial navigation industry representatives to participate in regular communications about this upcoming outage and its associated major work projects.
“Aging infrastructure sometimes requires extensive non-routine repairs and improvements that cannot be completed within the traditional two week-long annual routine maintenance outages. Extended lock closures are very unusual and carefully coordinated between districts and commercial users to prioritize needed lock repairs and minimize the duration of closures,” said Hal Thomas, Walla Walla District’s navigation business line manager. “This work will improve the long-term functionality and safety of these locks as well as the overall reliability of the Columbia-Snake River navigation system as a whole.”