Popular Snake Dam Crossing Reopensby Andrew Sirocchi
Tri-City Herald, June 3, 2006
The roadway across Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, a once-popular rural shortcut, has opened to the public on a limited basis for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001.
The lock and dam were closed immediately after the terrorist attacks because of safety concerns. The roadway remained shut until Thursday, when the Army Corps of Engineers began escorting vehicles over the dam.
"Once the threat level came down to the point where this could be considered, it was our commander's goal that if conditions allowed, we would facilitate this," said Gina Baltrusch, a spokeswoman for the Corps' Walla Walla district.
The route is to remain open on a trial basis for six months.
The shortcut can trim 20 minutes from a drive to Spokane for those who live on the south side of the Snake River.
Passenger cars, motorcycles, open trucks, recreational vehicles, small vans and farm equipment are allowed to cross the dam once an hour, on the half-hour, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The crossing is closed on federal holidays.
All vehicles crossing the dam are subject to search.
Those crossing the dam must show photo identification for everyone in the vehicle older than 16. Firearms must be unloaded and declared at the gate and drivers cannot stop their vehicles to take pictures or for sightseeing.
Pedestrians won't be allowed to cross the dam for safety reasons. Neither will fuel trucks, large commercial vehicles, vehicles hauling flammable or explosive cargo or any vehicle that cannot be easily searched.
Roger Golladay, dam operations manager, emphasized that the route could be closed at any time "for extended periods of time due to operations, maintenance or construction-related activities."
Changes in security conditions also could close the dam to public access.
In December 2003, Lower Granite Lock and Dam near Pomeroy became the first to reopen after the terrorist attacks. Since then, Little Goose Lock and Dam near Starbuck also has reopened.
Crossings through those dams also are scheduled each hour on the half-hour from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed on federal holidays.
"We are not funded to staff additional security personnel to provide around-the-clock access," Baltrusch said. "That's why they've got limited times and days. We're doing what we can with the resources we have."
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