What does a Bridge and Lock Tender do?

Operate and tend bridges, canal locks, and lighthouses to permit marine passage on inland waterways, near shores, and at danger points in waterway passages. May supervise such operations. Includes drawbridge operators, lock operators, and slip bridge operators.

Jobs Roles

  • Move levers to activate traffic signals, navigation lights, and alarms.
  • Record names, types, and destinations of vessels passing through bridge openings or locks, and numbers of trains or vehicles crossing bridges.
  • Control machinery to open and close canal locks and dams, railroad or highway drawbridges, or horizontally or vertically adjustable bridges.
  • Direct movements of vessels in locks or bridge areas, using signals, telecommunication equipment, or loudspeakers.
  • Prepare accident reports.
  • Observe approaching vessels to determine size and speed, and listen for whistle signals indicating desire to pass.
  • Observe position and progress of vessels to ensure best utilization of lock spaces or bridge opening spaces.
  • Maintain and guard stations in bridges to check waterways for boat traffic.
  • Inspect canal and bridge equipment, and areas such as roadbeds for damage or defects, reporting problems to supervisors as necessary.
  • Clean and lubricate equipment, and make minor repairs and adjustments.
  • Log data such as water levels and weather conditions.
  • Write and submit maintenance work requisitions.
  • Perform maintenance duties such as sweeping, painting, and yard work to keep facilities clean and in order.
  • Check that bridges are clear of vehicles and pedestrians prior to opening.
  • Turn valves to increase or decrease water levels in locks.
  • Stop automobile and pedestrian traffic on bridges, and lower automobile gates prior to moving bridges.
  • Raise drawbridges and observe passage of water traffic, then lower drawbridges and raise automobile gates.
  • Operate lighthouses to assist marine passage near shores and dangerous waters.
  • Add and remove balance weights to bridge mechanisms as necessary.
  • Attach ropes or cable lines to bitts on lock decks or wharfs to secure vessels.
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