The larger of the two Ballard Locks reopened Monday afternoon after an electrical outage that occurred Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.

The flaw, traced to a limit switch, prevented the system from recognizing  whether gates were fully open, or fully closed, to allow ship entry,   Corps spokesman William Dowell said. So they were  closed as a precaution, until the problem was solved at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

“The locks are 102 years old. The electrical system is just one of those things that needs to be repaired,” Dowell said.

He said the large-lock closure affected Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel in Ballard, which receives shipments of gravel and other materials arriving from Puget Sound.

That problem followed a far more minor incident Saturday, when debris became stuck under a gate, raising it some six inches off the lock floor, he said. Three inches of rain fell from Thursday to Friday, stirring up shoreline debris. The jam, now cleared, forced operators into a “half-lock” limited to 375 feet long.

Coincidentally, the power glitch happened on the same day that steel drawspan leaves on the four-lane Ballard Bridge, also 102 years old, failed to descend all the way, interrupting car and truck traffic for more than four hours.


Also on Sunday morning, people paddling near the Locks fell into the water and had to be retrieved.

One person fell over the spillway top from the freshwater to the saltwater side, Dowell said, while the Seattle Fire Department tweeted that two people were rescued without injuries. Bystander video published by KIRO 7 News shows a kayaker stuck against a Salmon Bay spillway gate.

The area is marked as a danger zone, and water forces are even stronger than usual, Dowell said. Fortunately, he said, visitors there helped by tossing flotation rings and calling for emergency response.