U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transfers Ownership of Willamette Falls Locks

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The Willamette Locks Commission reached a transfer agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Willamette Falls Locks Authority earlier this month, avoiding permanent lock closures and restoring opportunities for public use. of the historic waterway of river transport.

Sen. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City, said in a press release that he has helped lead this process over the years by facilitating dialogues between state and private interests who have championed the restoration of locks for public and open use.

The job spanned his time as State Representative for the Canby area and Clackamas County Commissioner.

“This is a significant step forward in bringing the locks under state ownership,” Kennemer said. “The Locks Authority can now lead the development of a strategy on how to restore the locks to public usable functionality. This has been a long time coming and is an important major step for public use and development. trade on the river.

Kennemer, a Senate appointee to the Locks Commission, also served on the Willamette Falls Locks Task Force while serving as a state representative.

The Locks at Willamette Falls.

It was in this role that Kennemer worked on the idea of ​​creating a public corporation that could handle maintenance and use by public and private commercial interests if the river was navigable again with working locks. .

Kennemer noted that by completing the Commission’s work, the remaining $57,698 of the $871,145 in grants from the Oregon Legislature and local stakeholders will be transferred to the new Locks Authority.

Meanwhile, the US Army Corps of Engineers, with $6.2 million in federal funding made available in March 2022, can perform the necessary seismic repairs beginning in September 2022.

Legislative work led by Kennemer secured additional legislative funding of $7.5 million to undertake repairs to the elevator unit to make the locks fully functional.

Locks, circa 1915.

“Having worked on this project for many years in many elected offices, it is exciting to see the culmination of a vision for functional and purposeful Willamette Falls locks,” Kennemer said.

“The Locks is not only a gem for Clackamas County, as 149 year old infrastructure, but it also has significant local history that deserves to be preserved. Additionally, the locks have cultural significance to our native tribes. This step forward is the start of a new chapter for locks.

Kennemer said that as the functional maintenance work begins, the Authority will also engage in the development of long-term business and management plans for future uses of the locks.

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