Annual maintenance is underway at the Ballard Locks, with the large lock closing today until Nov. 21.
Crews from the US Army Corps of Engineers will be performing the annual maintenance, which is about a week longer than usual because they’ll also be repairing and replacing the center gate gudgeon pins.
The small lock will be open throughout the closure period, which can fit vessels less than 120 feet in length and 26 feet in width. Emergency vessels have priority through the locks, followed by government, commercial, and then recreational. Locks officials say mariners should expect delays during the next few weeks of the closure.
Next year, the large lock chamber will be closed for 45 days for the first of several closures to replace the 101-year-old valve gates.
“The parts are underwater and have lasted more than 100 years because of our maintenance program,” Operations Project Manager Jon Hofstra said in a statement. “They are beyond their service life and parts are no longer available. If they fail, it could mean the large chamber would be closed months and months. That would be economically devastating.”
The first projected 45-day closure is set for Oct. 12 – Nov. 30, 2019, with several more closures spread out between 2020 and 2021.