15-033 Corps of Engineers announces extended 2016-2017 Columbia River lock system closure beginning December 2016

Published May 27, 2015

BOARDMAN, Ore. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to conduct an extended navigation lock outage beginning December 12, 2016, Corps officials from Walla Walla and Portland districts announced today during a regional navigation meeting held at the Port of Morrow SAGE Center in Boardman, Oregon.


 The 14-week-long closure will affect all navigation locks operated by the Corps on the Columbia and Snake rivers. 


The extended lock outage plan is a coordinated effort between Portland and Walla Walla districts, whose goal is to prioritize needed lock repairs along the Columbia and Snake rivers to minimize the impact lock closures have on river users. To meet that goal, although the closure will not occur until December 2016, Corps officials wanted to provide early notice to commercial navigators and their customers so they can plan around the outage.


The Corps invited commercial navigation industry representatives to participate in regular communications about this upcoming outage and its associated major work projects. Corps presentations outlined the work to be done during the outage and the Corps’ commitment to keep commercial navigators informed throughout the planning and work stages. 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 demonstrated its intent to provide information in a timely manner, giving commercial navigation businesses and their customers maximum time to prepare for the outage.


“Initially, we plan to provide quarterly email updates about the Corps’ planning progress. As we get closer to the start of the outage, updates will become more frequent,” said Jeannette Wilson, Walla Walla District Navigation Business Line Manager. “In October and November 2016, updates will become part of a regularly scheduled webinar and teleconference meeting. Starting in December, teleconferences will occur weekly throughout the extended lock outage period.”


Critical repairs and improvements currently planned to occur during the extended navigation lock outage include:


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.


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 – the downstream gate land-side gudgeon was replaced in April 2014. However, additional work is needed during the FY17 closure to fully complete replacement of all downstream gudgeon arms and pintles. The miter gate quoin blocks and other structural items are also in need of repair, as the hinges on which the gate rests have fractured welds causing structural failure.


These repairs are necessary for continued operations and to maintain safe and reliable passage through the Columbia-Snake River navigation system. Aging infrastructure sometimes requires extensive non-routine repairs and rehabilitation 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 to prioritize needed lock repairs and minimize the duration of closures. This work will improve the long-term functionality and safety of these locks and improve the reliability of the Columbia-Snake River navigation system as a whole.


“Our districts have worked very hard to coordinate this extended outage. The alternative to these planned, coordinated outages is unplanned emergency outages that might shut down the navigation locks for a year or more,” noted Wilson. “We understand the impact this outage has on our navigation stakeholders, and will do our utmost to complete the needed work on schedule.”


Diane Fredlund
Portland District
Gina Baltrusch
Walla Walla District

Release no. 15-033