Chittenden Locks in Ballard schedules October-November closings

Published Oct. 23, 2013

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard will close to much or all marine traffic at various times Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 5-20.

Vessel operators should pay close attention to times, vessel-size restrictions and impacts caused by railroad bridge maintenance.

On Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, U.S. Navy divers are scheduled to prepare the Adult Salmon Exclusion Structure for normal winter operations. The locks will have a full closure (both locks) from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Oct. 31, and a large lock only closure from 8-11 a.m. Nov. 1.

The large lock at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard is scheduled to close to all marine traffic from 9 a.m., Nov. 5, to 5 p.m., Nov. 20, for annual maintenance. The small lock will still be available for vessels less than 115 feet in length and 26 feet in width throughout the large lock maintenance period. Please note, however, that in conjunction with the Lock closure, BNSF Railway will make structural upgrades to the Ballard railroad bridge which crosses Lake Washington Ship Canal west of the Locks. High mast vessels able to use the small lock will not be able to pass the bridge during the four BNSF Railway closures from 9 a.m. to midnight, Nov. 5, 7, 12 and 14.

The scheduled repairs to the large lock are part of an annual general maintenance program. 

The Adult Salmon Exclusion Structure, immediately upstream of the locks, prevents salmon from entering the locks’ saltwater return intake in late spring. Navy divers from Naval Base Kitsap close 10, 10-foot-by-6-foot doors and inspect the 30-by-60 foot curved-front, mesh screen structure. The Navy regularly supports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with this procedure before salmon migration season begins mid-June. Now in autumn, divers will open the Adult Salmon Exclusion Structure until next spring.

Prior to installation of the large screen structure in 2008, adult salmon sometimes entered a diffuser well beneath the fish ladder. The well does not have an exit and entering it led to salmon migration delay, injury or death. The saltwater drain structure improves viability of salmon using the fish ladder returning upstream to spawning grounds.

The inspections require Lock closure to all but emergency vessels on emergency calls. The staff will complete work as quickly and safely as possible. Monthly inspection closures will be posted at least a week prior on the Seattle District’s public web site at and on the Locks on Facebook and Twitter sites at and

The Chittenden Locks fish ladder was one of the first in the nation. Former Seattle District Engineer Maj. Hiram M. Chittenden understood salmon’s importance to the Pacific Northwest ecosystem and incorporated a fish ladder in the Locks early 1900s design. In 1976, Corps officials renovated and improved the ladder to reflect changes in fish conservation. Led by Corps Fish Biologist Dr. Scott Pozarycki, the Locks are still the focus of studies detailing migrating juvenile and adult salmon and other species.

More than 60,000 vessels safely transit the Locks each year between Lake Washington and Salmon Bay in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. For current information about activities at the Locks, visit the Locks’ Web site at or follow the Locks on Facebook and Twitter: and
Dave Harris

Release no. 13-054