Commonwealth Journal

Local News

December 13, 2007

Corps seeking bids for construction of second wall at dam

Local News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week advertised for bids to insert a second diaphragm wall into the earthen section of Wolf Creek Dam.

Steve Foshee, public affairs office for the Corps, said bids will be opened March 11and hopefully a contract can be let by late May. Repairs to the mile-long dam, considered in high risk of failure, are expected to take up to seven years.

The new diaphragm wall will be upstream from a similar wall put in the dam during the 1970s. The new wall will be longer and deeper than the original wall installed after more serious leaks were discovered in the late 1960s. An Italian firm, ISO Corporation, inserted the original diaphragm wall.

David Hendrix, project manager at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nashville District Office said specifications of the new wall will have a minimum requirement of at least two feet thick. Its depth in the bedrock will range to more than 100 feet, depending on the formation of the rock.

“We’re taking the wall down to the Catheys Formation,” said Hendrix. He explained that this is more competent limestone rock that the Leipers Formation, a karst limestone region beneath the dam that is marked by sinkholes and interspersed with abrupt ridges, irregular, bulging rocks, caverns and underground streams. Seepage through this karst causes the dam to develop serious leaks.

Hendrix said the diaphragm wall, part of a $309 million rehabilitation of the dam, can be installed a couple of ways. One is what he called a secant pile wall, formed by drilling large holes adjacent to one another. Another method is a panel wall, formed by using a mill to excavate rectangular openings in which the wall would be poured in short concrete panels with joints between each section.

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