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Damage to lock worse than thought

The large Ballard lock is still operating on a twice-daily basis as crews work for fix damage from a lightning strike that turned out to be worse than initially thought.

A powerful blast of lightning knocked out power to the large lock shortly before midnight almost three weeks ago. Three days later, on Oct. 14, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopened the lock on a limited basis, with openings at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily.

Workers have been stationed underground on either side of the lock, operating the miter gates that hold and release water by using an electrical crank system that operates separately from the main electrical box, which was knocked out by the lightning strike. The lock still can’t be operated from the above-ground tower.

The large lock is scheduled to close for annual maintenance between Nov. 10 and 24. Crews are expecting additional parts needed for repairs to arrive today, Graesser said, and the Corps hopes to have the large lock fixed and reopened before the maintenance starts.

In the meantime, the lock will continue to be opened twice a day. Barges and freighters on scheduled runs will get priority for one space per company for each opening, with other commercial vessels given the next priority. If there is room, recreational vessels will be allowed to use the large lock.