WALLA WALLA — Navigation locks on the Columbia and Snake rivers will go back into operation this month after several months of repairs, clearing the way for about 100 Tidewater Barge employees who had been laid off because of the closure to return to full-time work.
Another 100 Tidewater employees who had worked a mix of part-time and full-time hours because of the locks closure also will return to full-time work, said Carol Bua, spokeswoman for the Vancouver-based company.
“We are already ramping up” to be fully operational by March 23, Bua said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the locks Dec. 10 to replace gates at three dams and complete maintenance at other locations, marking the longest shutdown in the history of the Columbia and Snake river system. The locks are usually closed for about two or three weeks annually for routine maintenance.
The locks at Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental Little Goose and Lower Granite dams on the Snake River will go back into service March 15. On the Columbia River, the locks at McNary Dam will reopen March 17, followed by John Day and Bonneville dams on March 19 and The Dalles Dam in March 24.
Corps officials said that while the locks had been scheduled to reopen March 13, the date was changed to synchronize with the return to service of John Day and The Dalles locks and allow time to ensure all work met quality control standards.