The Columbia-Snake River Shipping System
by Whitney McFerron
Shipping on the Columbia-Snake River System, a major gateway to the Pacific Ocean for U.S. wheat and barley exports, will reopen this weekend after a three-month shutdown, the Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday. Barge traffic has been "effectively" halted since Dec. 10 as eight dams along a 465-mile stretch of the river system underwent repairs and maintenance, said Scott Clemans, a spokesman for the Army Corps in Portland. Work is finishing up Thursday on The Dalles and Bonneville dams, and the John Day dam will reopen Saturday, clearing the final obstruction on the waterway, he said.
The river system's reopening, originally scheduled for March 18, was delayed in part because of winds and heavy rain near John Day and problems during the installation of gates at The Dalles, Clemans said.
"For these projects, doing gate replacements, we're talking about tremendously large pieces of equipment that are 120 feet tall, 100 feet wide and weighing up to 2 million pounds in some cases, and yet they have to be aligned within millimeters," Clemans said. "It's a very complex and demanding task." That much was evident in January (above), when workers moved one of two, 700,000 pound navigation lock gates at The Dalles Dam.
Scores Turn Out to See Progress at Dam by Andy Porter, Union-Bulletin, 1/27/11
Extended Navigation Lock Outage US Army Corps of Engineers
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