Bonneville Dam lock

A boat lock on the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River connects Oregon and Washington state at Cascade Locks.

A critical navigation lock on the lower Columbia River reopened Friday night, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps previously said the river would reopen Monday, but crews were able to finish work a few days early.

That means barges full of grain and other materials waiting to get from the inland Northwest ports to Vancouver, Washington, and Portland and out to export markets can resume.

Boat traffic on the international trade route has been stopped since Sept. 5 to repair a lock at Bonneville Dam.

Crews with the Army Corps’ Portland division have been working around-the-clock the past three weeks to open the channel.

Eight million tons of cargo moves inland on the Columbia and Snake rivers each year, and 53% of U.S. wheat exports were transported on the Columbia River in 2017, the Associated Press reported.

About $2 billion in commercial cargo travels the entire system annually, according to the Army Corps, and it’s the No. 1 export gate in the U.S. for wheat and barley and the No. 2 export gate for corn.”

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