Officials say Lake Cumberland on the rise with barrier wall complete

Video: Lake Cumberland is on the rise now that Wolf Creek Dam is fixed. Local citizens and stakeholders attended a ceremony April 19, 2013 at the Russell Springs Auditorium and Natatorium in Russell Springs, Ky., to celebrate the end of six years of construction to install an underground barrier wall and repair the foundation of the dam. (Video by Lee Roberts)

By Lee Roberts

RUSSELL SPRINGS, Ky. (April 19, 2013) – During a completion ceremony today in the Russell Springs Auditorium and Natatorium, a live feed of the last concrete placement on the work platform at Wolf Creek Dam drew applause from dignitaries, stakeholders and citizens in attendance.

Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky's 5th District inserts the last pile in a model of the concrete barrier wall constructed in the embankment at Wolf Creek Dam. Rogers gave the keynote address at a completion ceremony April 19, 2013 at the Russell Springs Auditorium and Natatorium in Russell Springs, Ky. (Photo by Lee Roberts)
Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky’s 5th District inserts the last pile in a model of the concrete barrier wall constructed in the embankment at Wolf Creek Dam. Rogers gave the keynote address at a completion ceremony April 19, 2013 at the Russell Springs Auditorium and Natatorium in Russell Springs, Ky. (Photo by Lee Roberts)

In only a matter of minutes on the big screen, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District officially completed the final piece of the barrier wall that is critical to the repair of the dam.

Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, Nashville District commander, said numerous Corps employees and contractors with support from every command level worked many hours to make this day possible.

“There have been so many moving pieces and the work done here has been nothing less than world class,” DeLapp said.

Contracting crews with Treviicos Soletanche Joint Venture recently placed concrete into the last of 1,200 piles that form the 4,000-foot-long barrier wall.  Soon afterward the Corps started capturing water from the spring rains in Lake Cumberland.  The lake has been on the rise ever since.

DeLapp announced during the ceremony that the pool elevation is already up to 701 feet, which is more than 20 feet higher than its reduced level during construction.  The Corps plans to operate the lake between 700-705 feet during the 2013 recreation season before returning to historical operating levels in 2014, he said.

U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, who represents Kentucky’s 5th District, gave the key note address and described the day in one word – “Hallelujah!”

Rogers noted how pleased he is to see water rising in Fishing Creek and across the Lake Cumberland Basin.

“And thanks to the great work of the Corps and these contractors and all involved, I think we’re now ready to see the rebirth of the tourist economy in this whole section of Kentucky,” the Congressman said.  “It’s been a hard long pull.  It’s a very costly one – in fact $594 million dollars.”

However, in the engineering community the difficulty and significance of completing the project cannot be overstated, Rogers explained.

“We’ve heard from these engineers and contractors… that this is a unique project.  This has never been done before anywhere in the world,” Rogers said.  “And they had to invent the process, and the machinery, and train the workers on something that had never been done before.  Well this was sort of like a shot to the moon in the business that these people are in.  And so this is historic.”

The contractor of the project, Treviicos Soletanche Joint Venture, amassed more than 1.2 million man hours during construction without a lost-time accident.  DeLapp said this was an incredible achievement given the moving parts, equipment and people that constantly moved every day in the construction zone.

The Nashville District awarded the contract to install the barrier wall to Treviicos Soletanche Joint Venture in 2008.

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