Herbold: Ballard Locks update
Information from District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold
Over the last two years, a broad coalition including the City and Port of Seattle, other cities and towns around Puget Sound, the maritime industry, and environmental groups, have joined forces to advocate on behalf of the Ballard Locks. The Locks are the busiest in the U.S. in vessel transits and the 12thbusiest in the nation for commercial transits. They generate $1.2 billion of economic activity, including 3,000 jobs and payroll for those jobs of $129 million a year. They are also 100 years old and in need of $30-60 million in major maintenance.
Last year, in my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts committee we received a presentation from this coalition. We were joined by Eugene Wasserman, President, North Seattle Industrial Association; Charles Costanzo, Vice President, Pacific Region American Waterways Operators; Lindsay Wolpa, Regional Government Affairs Manager, Port of Seattle and Northwest Seaport Alliance; Roque Deherrera, Office of Economic Development; and Peter Schrappen, Washington Maritime Federation Board Chair.
Soon after the presentation, the Seattle Times reported on the efforts of this coalition to get funding for major maintenance as well as the fact that the “machines used to raise and lower the water levels inside the Locks, for instance, have had to last since the Army Corps of Engineers installed them in 1917.”
The news is that because of all of this coordinated effort, in September, a contract to fund replacement of the original large lock chamber’s 100-year-old filling culvert gates at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard was awarded by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This year, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin replacing the filling culvert valves – the mechanism that fills and empties the Locks. The new filling culvert valves will improve the reliability of the facility and will also allow for easier fish passage and greatly improve survival rates of juvenile salmon that need to pass through the Locks. This work is scheduled to begin in October and will be followed by additional critical repair work. The Ballard Locks and the local maritime industry are important drivers of economic development and economic diversity in Seattle. I will continue to promote these efforts at the Locks to restore critical infrastructure, improve conditions for Puget Sound salmon, and support an important economic driver for our region.