THE DALLES, Ore. – An out-of-season outage will close The Dalles Dam’s navigation lock, Sept. 14-15, 2021. A specialized U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rope-access (climbing) inspection team will be performing an assessment, which is part of a required five-year cycle.
All submerged steel structures in Portland District that protect people or assets are part of the Hydraulic Steel Structures (HSS) program. The Corps has a requirement to periodically and thoroughly inspect all HSS assets to ensure the asset is still safe to work behind. There are two inspection cycles, at the five and 25-year intervals.
This outage and inspection requirement is completely separate from the miter gate issue discovered during the annual lock outage and unanticipated extension in March 2021. However, Portland District engineers plan to leverage any information gained from the HSS inspection to better inform and optimize the repairs to be done in next year’s planned outage (March 2022).
“We recognize the importance these locks have on commercial entities moving goods up and down the Columbia River,” said Liza Wells, Portland District deputy district engineer. “This inspection will ensure The Dalles navigation lock is safe and reliable for our people and partners who depend on these vital transportation assets.”
The Dalles navigation lock, completed in 1957, is 650 feet long and is 86 feet wide. On an average day, around six commercial vessels pass through the lock.
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.