Celebration will be held this week commemorating completion of Wolf Creek Dam repairs
By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus Commonwealth Journal
Congressman Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, will be the main speaker Friday, April 19 during a ceremony to celebrate completion of the Wolf Creek Dam Rehabilitation Project.
Rogers and other state and national dignitaries will initiate the ceremonial last concrete placement on the barrier guide wall, signifying official completion of the barrier wall installation. Marcheta Sparrow, secretary for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, will represent state government at the event, beginning at 11 a.m. EDT.
“This is a monumental occasion for both local and downstream communities that rely on the dam for economic and water management benefits,” said Lt. Col. James A. Delapp, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nashville District.
The last pile was poured March 6 to complete a 4,000-foot-long barrier wall extending 275 feet downward from the work platform on the upstream side of the dam to about 100 feet into limestone bedrock at the base of the dam. The $594 million project is designed as a permanent fix for the 63-year-old structure that has been plagued with seepage throughout its life-span.
Special tribute will be paid to Treviicos-Soletanche Joint Venture, the French-Italian general contractor that completed the project of a scope never before done in the world.
Rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam was initiated after an outside panel of experts in 2005 declared the dam in “high risk” of failure. Level of Lake Cumberland has been kept about 40 feet below normal since January 2007 to ease pressure on the troubled structure and facilitate the repair operation.
Completion of the rehabilitation project also allows the lake to begin rising, targeted at between 700 and 705 feet above sea level by the first of June. After remedial work is complete this coming December, the lake will be allowed to rise to pool stage, or tree line, by Summer 2014.
The public is encouraged to attend the celebratory event. Parking is available at nearby Halcomb’s Landing and a shuttle service to the ceremony location on the work platform begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Attendees will be able to walk from Halcomb’s Landing to the ceremony site, but the distance is about a mile each way.
The event will be held, rain or shine. A tent will cover only a portion of the seating area so participants are encouraged to bring an umbrella if inclement weather is anticipated.
The program is designed to last about an hour, but could last up to an hour and 15 minutes, according to Lee Roberts, public affairs officer for the Corps.
“I’ll be there,” said Van Back, assistant director for Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is a big thing for us.” He predicted many marina operators and representatives of tourism-related businesses will also attend.