This side of the Garrison Dam is usually dry, like now, and in fact, "it's only been opened once in the lifetime of the dam, and the dam was completed in 1954," says David Beck, Civil Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
That onetime event was in 2011, during North Dakota's historic flood. Now, two years later, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to make repairs to Garrison Dam and other infrastructure along the Missouri River.
Over 100 projects have been identified, including spillway gates, outlet works, recreational facilities, roads and flood control structures. Eight contracts to repair damages at Garrison Dam are underway -- meaning there's a lot more activity and workers than normal. "There's a lot of contractors on the site. Usually, we'll have one or two construction projects for the season, like right now, we have five and they're big projects," says Beck.
Estimated cost for all flood repairs, including Garrison Dam and North Dakota Missouri River improvements, are about $234 million. "The work needs to be done right now and the money was appropriated by the government to complete these repairs," notes Beck.
Repairs to these 28 gates used for emergency flood control are expected to be finished by about 2016. But in the event of another flood along the lines of the 2011 flood, the Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to step in. Says Beck, "if there's a potential for another flood, we'll put the gates back together and make sure they're operational before the flood."
The Corps says they're a bit behind schedule due to the weather, so West Tailrace Road -- a popular fishing spot -- will be closed until around July 1st.
In the meantime, impacted communities throughout the basin will continue to see lots of activity to repair the 2011 damage, and, notes Beck, "be prepared to handle another flood, if we need to."
The Garrison Dam is 2.1 miles long and forms the third largest reservoir -- Lake Sakakawea -- in the U.S.
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