The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains and assesses the locks along the Columbia and Snake rivers on an annual basis to keep an estimated $23 billion dollars’ worth of commerce flowing.
“The ability for cargo to move efficiently and safely on our waterways helps keep us competitive in global markets,” said Heather Stebbings, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association executive director. “It’s all the way from the farmers in eastern Washington and eastern Oregon; helps keeps their grain competitive and helps keep folks working on our waterways.”
At Bonneville Dam, climbers recently inspected the downstream miter gates for flaws. These gates are 95 feet tall and 50 feet wide.
“Inspectors will be going down, from the top to the bottom of the gates looking for any structural defects, whether that be cracks, or weld defects or increased corrosion rates and stuff like that,” said Wyatt Givens, chief of maintenance engineering and contracts, Bonneville Lock & Dam.
Miter gates face a lot of pressure throughout the year.
“We average eight lockages a day throughout the year, and so just that cyclical loading creates a lot of stress and strain on the gates,” said Givens.
The Pacific Northwest Waterways Association and other groups are very interested in the status of the infrastructure.
“This is a partnership between all of the folks that care about moving cargo on the waterways – our federal partners that are bringing dollars back to the region to maintain these projects and the Corps of Engineers that’s actually on the ground here doing a lot of the work,” said Stebbings. “And so, we are just really appreciative of the partnership that we all have to ensure that we can move cargo efficiently and safely on the Columbia-Snake River system.”
Keeping the locks maintained during scheduled outages ensures that these systems stay open on a reliable schedule, which is a priority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
View the video, here: https://youtu.be/N4-03V00f9U.