Chittenden Locks fish ladder, viewing room closed until March 11

Published Feb. 26, 2019

SEATTLE – The fish ladder and viewing room at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard is closed until March 11 for electrical system upgrades..


The rest room in the plaza near the fish ladder will also close during this maintenance. The fish ladder plaza and ramp will remain open. The closure will not affect pedestrian and bicycle commuter traffic or locking operations.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates the Locks and the crew needs to perform the upgrade prior to the adult salmon upstream spawning migration.


The upgrade will support fish ladder instrumentation and sensors that run non-stop and is required to prevent a possible disruption during migration. A computerized control system monitors several key parameters, including pool, diffuser well and tide elevations, adjusting valve gates and weirs for optimal conditions. Locks Natural Resource Management Chief Connie Grant said it’s critical to ensure the systems are running to specified parameters.


The ladder was one of the first in the nation. During planning of the locks in the early 1900s, then Seattle District Engineer Maj. Hiram M. Chittenden understood the importance of salmon to the Pacific Northwest’s ecosystem and incorporated a 10-weir ladder. In 1976, Corps officials renovated and improved the ladder to reflect changes in fish conservation. The Locks continue to be a focus of studies detailing migrating juvenile and adult salmon behavior.


Seattle District partners Discover Your Northwest and The Corps Foundation are also currently teaming up to renovate the fish ladder viewing area to improve the visitor experience. The partners are trying to upgrade the interpretive exhibits, educational technology and overall appearance. For more information visit


For more information about activities at the Locks, visit the Locks’ Web site at Also follow the Locks on Facebook and Twitter: and

Bill Dowell

Release no. 19-009