The viewing area at Tumwater Dam west of Leavenworth will be closed starting Tuesday because of a maintenance project. 

The Dam's apron, which is a section of concrete that sits just downstream, will be repaired and reinforced with new concrete. 

Chelan PUD spokesperson Rachel Hansen says the maintenance is needed every 20-years because of wear and tear from the Wenatchee River. 

"Every spring, the river in that area, it's a very turbulent environment, so the water rushes through there," said Hansen. "And over time, what that can do is, it can damage the concrete." 

During the project, white water rafters on the river will be given a safe path to get their rafts around the maintenance work before reentering the water. 

Meanwhile, drivers on Highway 2 near the dam will experience short delays starting in mid-October, when the PUD will move trucks and equipment in and out of the job site. 

The project, which should be finished by mid-December. is the second part of a multi-year maintenance plan for Tumwater Dam.  

The PUD reinforced the entrance of the dam’s fishway with concrete in 2020 to meet safety standards regulated by the state Department of Ecology. 

The fishway is instrumental in current times to help the PUD collect adult fish to meet its hatchery obligations under its Habitat Conservation Plans for Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams. 

It is also an important site for fish study for several agencies, including Yakama Nation Fisheries, Washington State Fish and Wildlife and Grant PUD. 

Chelan PUD acquired the dam in the 1950s and rebuilt the fishway in its current configuration in the late 1980s. 

The Dam itself was constructed at the turn of the century to provide power for trains travelling through the tunnel at nearby Stevens Pass. 

Hansen says the trains needed clean hydro power. 

"If they relied on coal or some other fuel source that emitted a lot of exhaust, it would be toxic by the time the train passed through the long tunnel," Hansen said. 

Separate from the upcoming Tumwater Dam maintenance project, a guardrail replacement project by Washington State Department of Transportation will brings traffic delays on U.S. 2 through Tumwater Canyon.

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