Chittenden Locks small chamber closed for unscheduled maintenance

Published Sept. 5, 2019

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks small chamber is closed to marine traffic this week with reopening possible by September 13.

Over the weekend the small lock west gates started to experience abnormal vibration, shaking and increased leakage at the miter joint and sill joint. Gate performance worsened with use.

Yesterday remotely operated vehicle inspections discovered the sill seal is damaged. The sill wood is sticking up above the top of the sill in the location of the miter, which indicates that the sill wood separated from the concrete. Left as is, it could worsen, which could cause constant water flow under the small lock gates or if the sill wood was too fully separate this could allow the west gates to over travel. Therefore operators removed the small lock from operation September 4 to de-water and repair the sill. To allow time to get tools and equipment staged, de-water, repair and re-water, the outage could last until September 13.     

All vessels will use the large lock and boaters should be prepared with appropriate equipment and crew. Large lock requirements include 50-foot-long lines and fenders on board. Current locking through information is available at Mariners may experience delays, depending on passage demand.

Nearly all recreational vessels can transit through the large lock, with the exception of un-motorized vessels, such as kayaks, canoes, rowboats, which won’t be able to lock through until the small lock re-opens. 

Most machinery and equipment, including gates and valves, are original to the 100-year-old facility. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates the Chittenden Locks. The busiest in the nation, nearly 50,000 vessels lock through each year.

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Public Affairs Office

Release no. 19-030