News Releases

Bonneville navigation lock returns to service 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27

Published Sept. 27, 2019
Lock outage

Commercial and recreational vessels enter the downstream navigation lock at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. Ten million tons of commercial cargo, valued at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, is transported each year along the Columbia-Snake rivers navigation system, according to navigation industry data.

The navigation lock at Bonneville Dam will reopen to Columbia River traffic at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27.

“We know how important the Columbia River is to our river users and appreciate their patience while we worked to restore the Bonneville lock back to service,” said Kevin Brice, deputy district engineer. “It’s a testament to Portland District’s hardworking professionals and experts that we were able to return the lock to service ahead of schedule.”

The lock was closed to river traffic Thursday, Sept. 5, after lock operators detected problems operating the downstream gate. After draining and inspecting the lock, engineers discovered the downstream concrete sill, a structure against which lock gates create a water-tight seal, was damaged and needed replacement. The district team and experts removed the existing concrete sill and placed a new replacement sill.

To construct the new sill, 22 concrete trucks placed 176 cubic yards of concrete.

The navigation lock was originally scheduled to return to service Sept. 30. However, round-the-clock construction and favorable weather conditions allowed for the accelerated opening.

 “We want to thank the Corps of Engineers for the extraordinary effort they put into returning the Bonneville navigation lock to service,” said Kristin Meira, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. “The Columbia and Snake rivers are two of the Pacific Northwest’s major water ‘highways,’ and we’re happy to see the barges, cruise ships and other vessels moving again.

“These federal waterways are critical to jobs and trade in our region, and deliver real value to the nation."

The navigation lock, completed in 1993, extends 676 feet long and is 85 feet wide. On an average day, the lock operates about eight to 12 times to pass vessels of all sizes.

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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About U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District: Covering most of Oregon and southwestern Washington, Portland operates locks and dams along the Columbia River, manages dams in the Willamette Valley for flood damage reduction, maintains Oregon's coastal rivers for navigation and leads the Nation in hydropower generation, all while ensuring equal attention to environmental protection and restoration, fish and wildlife enhancement and recreation.

About Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA): PNWA is a collaboration of ports, businesses, public agencies and individuals who combine their economic and political strength in support of navigation, energy, trade and economic development throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Jeff Henon

Release no. 19-024

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