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Columbia, Snake rivers re-open for shipping

Navigation on the Columbia and Snake rivers resumed Saturday after three months of repairs to three locks, and extended maintenance on others.

Kristin Meira, spokeswoman for the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, said several barge-tows were lined up below Bonneville Dam for passage upstream when U.S. Corps of Engineers reopened the Columbia Snake River System at 11 p.m.

The system has eight locks that raise and lower ships and barges traveling between Portland and Lewiston. The Corps replaced the downstream gates on three; The Dalles and John Day on the Columbia, and Lower Monumental on the Snake.

The system has been closed since Dec. 10 to facilitate the repair and maintenance work, which cost a total $56.3 million, Meira said.

About 10 million tons of cargo valued at $2 billion moves through the locks each year, she said.

“Overall trade on the system is expected to increase significantly over the next 15 years,” PNWA Executive Director Glenn Vanselow said. With the success of this closure, the river system will remain a tremendous asset to handle the expected upsurge in waterborne commerce in the future.”


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