Heads up boaters: Ballard Locks large chamber begins 24-day closure

The large lock at Seattle’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, more commonly known as the Ballard Locks, is emptied each year for maintenance.

The large lock at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard is scheduled to close to all marine traffic from 9 a.m. October 29 to 8 p.m. Nov. 21 for annual maintenance and additional gate work.

The small lock will still be available for vessels less than 120 feet in length and 26 feet in width throughout the large lock maintenance period. Emergency vessels have priority, followed by government, commercial and then recreational. Be aware that you may experience delays, depending on passage demand.

The annual closure allows U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews to perform routine maintenance that is necessary and important in keeping the 101-year-old Chittenden Locks safe and operational for years to come. This year additional work is adding about a week onto the typical closure period. The extended closure is to repair and replace the center gate gudgeon pins.

In 2019, the large chamber is projected to begin the first of several extended 45-day closures to replace the valve gates, which are original to the century-old locks. The valve gates open and close, allowing water to flow through the large tunnels to raise and lower levels in the chamber.

“The parts are underwater and have lasted more than 100 years because of our maintenance program,” said Operations Project Manager Jon Hofstra. “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.”

For current information about activities at the Locks, visit the Locks’ website at http://bit.ly/BallardLocks or follow the Locks on Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/chittendenlocks and http://twitter.com/ChittendenLocks.

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