Corps of Engineers modernizing Small Lock machinery, controls

The following is a reprint of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District news release.

USACE/SEATTLE  Published Sept. 26, 2023

A major infrastructure upgrade to the nation’s busiest locks will help keep them operating into the next century.“We’ll be installing a new miter gate and filling valve actuation system to maintain the Locks’ infrastructure,” said Locks Operations Project Manager Jonathan Hofstra. “We’re also planning on upgrading and replacing current controls systems to a modern controls operating system.”

The $16 million project cost, of which $10.5 million comes from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding that President Joseph R. Biden signed into law in November 2021, will modernize aged electrical and mechanical components at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the contract August 2023.

The Chittenden Locks has served the Pacific Northwest and the U.S. for 106 years. Many systems and components have been upgraded, but many more need upgrading to continue operating.

The small lock machinery system operates the miter gates and valves that control the filling and emptying of the Canal’s small lock chamber. The new machinery will use compact hydraulic miter gate and valve operating machinery.

Current machinery and controls are deteriorated and need replacing before failure leads to small lock closure. The upgrades will reduce the risk of gate operating equipment failure that would severely impact the Army Corps’ navigation mission.

The official schedule has not been confirmed but Hofstra emphasized that all work will be completed in a single small lock dewatering event, and not affect normal navigational operations.

A Tribal-owned company, T1-RJS Joint Venture LLC of North Bend, Oregon, earned the contract award.

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