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Economic and dam related articles

River Locks to be Out for a Bit Longer

by Kathy Korengel
Tri-City Herald, March 16, 2011

(Andy Porter) Tour participants look over the edge of Lower Monumental Dam's cavernous navigation lock during a tour Wednesday. It was a rare opportunity to see the structure almost completely empty of water. It will take a little longer to install a new lock gate at Lower Monumental Dam than originally planned, the Army Corps of Engineers has announced.

Replacing the gate is part of a multi-dam project that has stopped most shipping in the Columbia River/Snake River navigation system since Dec. 10. The project has involved replacing gates at The Dalles and John Day dams, as well as Lower Monumental.

The Corps has moved back the completion date of work on Lower Monumental to Monday. It had been originally set for this past Sunday and then moved to Tuesday, said Gina Baltrusch, spokeswoman for the Corps' Walla Walla District.

The delay is to make sure the gate's seals are properly aligned to ensure a water-tight fit during locking operations, according to a news release.

"It's really critical these seals are aligned properly," Baltrusch said. As soon as the contractor on the project realized it might need more time, it started contacting shippers, she said.

Since shippers weren't planning on having any vessels ready to pass through the locks until Monday, they said the delay would be fine, Baltrusch said.

Shippers had been told in January replacing the gates at The Dalles Dam wouldn't be complete until Monday. It originally had been set to be done March 18.

"It's been a huge coordination and planning effort to basically ensure we are inconveniencing shippers for the least amount of time possible," Baltrusch said.

Scott Clemans, spokesman for the Corps' Portland District, said the completion date on The Dalles work was pushed back because the Corps and the contractor realized an error in the design drawings for the new gate.

"The contractor, to their credit, they did a tremendous job of making up most of the extra time," Clemans said.

Work on the John Day Dam is expected to be completed Friday, according to the Corps' website.

During the extended closure, routine and other non-routine maintenance was done on four other dams, Baltrusch said.

Ice Harbor, Little Goose and Lower Granite opened Tuesday. McNary is set to open at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Related Sites:
Extended Navigation Lock Outage US Army Corps of Engineers

Related Pages:
Opening of Lower Monumental Dam Lock Pushed Back by Staff, Walla Walla Union Bulletin, 3/14/11

Kathy Korengel
River Locks to be Out for a Bit Longer
Tri-City Herald, March 16, 2011

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