The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks large chamber opened for vessel traffic 1 p.m. November 30, but is limited to half chamber lockages.
Until officials provide notice of full large lock operation, vessels longer than 375 feet should contact the tower before heading to the locks. The chamber was scheduled to reopen December 3.
The large chamber closed October 12 to replace the first of six Stoney gate valves that are original to the 102-year-old locks. The contractor needs to complete some electrical work before full-chamber lockages will be available.
“We expect the full chamber will be open by December 3,” said Operations Project Manager Jon Hofstra. “We were determined to open the chamber as quickly as possible, even if it is half the chamber.”
The Stoney gate valve system was installed more than 100 years ago and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer officials weren’t sure what they would encounter.
“Removal of the operating machinery, motor, gate and other components went as scheduled, and in some cases faster than anticipated,” said Hofstra.
The contractor did run into some issues during the gate guide removal, but were able to get back on schedule and even complete installation early.
“There are three additional closures scheduled to complete replacement of the remaining five gates,” said Hofstra. “We’re working with the contractor to look for ways we can shorten the closure duration to help reduce impacts to our Seattle maritime community.”
The next scheduled closure to replace the second Stoney gate valve is February 12 through April 5.
The valves being replaced are under water and require the chamber be drained to replace them. They open and close, letting the water in and out of the chambers to raise and lower vessels. They are named after their inventor, Irish engineer Bindon B. Stoney.
For more information about scheduled and projected Chittenden Lock closures visit https://go.usa.gov/xVtpE. For closures and other activities visit the Locks’ Web site at http://bit.ly/BallardLocks. Also follow the Locks on Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/chittendenlocks and http://twitter.com/ChittendenLocks.