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Navigation locks to be upgraded

A tug pushing two barges approaches the upstream entrance to The Dalles Dam Navigation Locks on the Washington side of the Columbia River in The Dalles. Replacement of the upstream gates is scheduled to begin in December of this year.

A tug pushing two barges approaches the upstream entrance to The Dalles Dam Navigation Locks on the Washington side of the Columbia River in The Dalles. Replacement of the upstream gates is scheduled to begin in December of this year. Photo by Mark Gibson.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $10.5 million contract to a Vancouver, Wash., company to increase navigation lock reliability and safety at The Dalles Lock and Dam on the Columbia River.

Northbank Civil and Marine, Inc., will fabricate and install a new upstream navigation lock gate and new gudgeons anchors — the top hinges and anchor points — on the downstream gate. The contract also contains options for control systems upgrades and additional work on the downstream gate.

The project will reduce the risk of gate failure at this key point on the Columbia-Snake river inland navigation system, which annually supports transit of 9 million tons of cargo worth $3 billion, including about 40 percent of the nation's wheat.

"The upstream gate and controls systems are original equipment from when The Dalles Dam was completed in 1957 — they're well beyond their 50-year design service life," said Jeff Ament, Corps project manager for this navigation lock work.

"The downstream gate was replaced in 2010-2011, but the gudgeon anchors and other items were not a part of that project," he added.

Work will coincide with major improvements, critical repairs and routine maintenance at other navigation locks throughout the Columbia-Snake river inland navigation system.

A 14-week closure of those locks is scheduled to start Dec. 12 of this year.

More information about the project is available at the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Walla Walla District website.

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