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Dam construction restart could be 90 days late

BUCKEYE LAKE – Friday, May 26, marks a full year since the first phase of the Buckeye Lake Dam replacement project was completed. There has been very little activity on the dam since then.

So far the only sign that construction activity will be resuming was Monday’s traffic signal reactivation for one-lane traffic to and from Lieb’s Island.

Project spokesman Ian Nickey, in an email Construction Update on Saturday, May 20, wrote “site preparation will begin next week and will include trucking material from Liebs Island.” He added, “To facilitate safe vehicular traffic and avoid damage to the road, traffic control measures will be active Monday through Friday and periodically on weekends. When there is no construction activity scheduled on the weekends, the traffic control lights will be set to a continuous warning (flashing yellow) and the orange barrels will be moved to the road edge.”

Through Wednesday, there was no truck traffic to or from the Lieb’s Island staging area but traffic was limited to one lane in both directions.

Nickey also wrote that the construction of the test section for the Phase II buttress wall will occur in late June. According to the detailed construction schedule attached to ASI’s contract for Phase II, construction of the test section is a 17-day project that was supposed to be completed by April 24. Here’s some more key dates from that schedule.

• Install Soil Mix Test Section (17 days): Early/Late Start – March 31; Early/Late Finish – April 24;

• Test Section Cure (28 days): Early/Late Finish – May 22;

• Evaluate Test Section (11 days): Early/Late Finish – June 7;

• Begin Buttress Installation: Early/Late Start – June 8; and

• Substantial Completion: Early/Late Start – July 30, 2018

If work on the test section doesn’t begin until June 30 (which would qualify as late June), Phase II will be starting 90 days behind schedule. Losing three months on the front-end before experiencing the inevitable break-down and weather delays could push final completion into late fall or early winter next year.

Would that delay affect lake residents and visitors? It could be difference between having a full boating season next year or not.

If ODNR sticks with its current practice of keeping the height of the stop logs at AMIL spillway at the interim summer pool, evaporation during a typically dry and hot summer could end most power boating by early to mid-August. That’s what’s likely to happen this year if we have a typical summer.

That risk could be eliminated next year if ODNR agrees to stockpile some additional water by increasing the height of the stop logs at the AMIL spillway to offset summer evaporation. A substantial completion by July 30 next year might provide the opportunity to build up the water level to offset evaporation. A delay into much later in the year could force businesses and residents to endure two years of no boating (2015 and 2016) and two more years of about 50 percent seasons.

Nickey assures readers in bold type that, “The project remains on schedule to complete late 2018.” That’s a difference of up to five months and isn’t the schedule outlined in ASI’s contract.

He concludes his update with his regular warnings. “Do not cross the safety fence for any reason! Individuals found trespassing on the berm may face criminal charges and/or fines.” Nickey adds, “…operation of watercraft near the berm is prohibited. Marker buoys have been placed in the lake to mark prohibited boating areas.”

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