BUCKEYE LAKE – After months of missed starts, it now appears that dam construction activity will restart after an unexpected 13-month hiatus.
Ruhlin Group, a Phase 1 subcontractor, started preparing a soil mixing test pit at Lieb’s Island about two weeks ago. The firm is also removing the berm material stockpiles at both the North Shore and Lieb’s Island.
Rumors that the startup delays were caused by contract issues with the preferred soil mix contractor – DeWind One-Pass Trenching of Zeeland, Michigan – and/or unexpected delays in DeWind’s construction of a much larger one pass trencher for Phase 11 now have some plausibility.
In his latest construction update, project spokesman Ian Nickey reports that DeWind has been selected as the soil mix subcontractor. In their first face-to-face meeting this year, ODNR’s advisory council members learned Monday that DeWind has built a new machine capable of constructing the entire 12-foot wide buttress wall in one pass.
According to one council member, one arm of the monster trenching machine will have a 2-foot wide cutting edge that will cut the leg of the “P” that extends 20-some feet into the stability berm. Another arm will have a 10-foot wide cutting edge that will go down 15-feet to create box part of the “P.”
ASI’s amended contract for Phase II included a scope for soil mixing calling for four soil mixing rigs, each mixing 300 cubic yards per 12 hour shift. Switching to one ‘monster’ trencher is likely more efficient if, and it could be a very big “if,” it’s operational availability is at least equal to the smaller trenchers. When the ‘monster’ is down, all soil mixing stops. With the smaller trenchers, the loss of one machine only cuts production by 25 percent.
Parts of this giant trencher are supposed to start arriving here yet this week, according to Nickey. It will first be put together at Lieb’s Island. It will initially go to work in a test pit some 200-feet long, by 14 feet wide and 12 feet deep dug into the Lieb’s Island boat ramp parking lot.
Next is an approximately 500 foot test section on the West Bank. Curing will take about 30 days, according to Nickey. Once cured, it will be extensively sampled to make sure it is meeting design parameters. During the cure wait, it is expected the ‘monster’ will be dismantled, moved to the North Shore, and reassembled there. Then some time in August it will start moving down the berm to the AMIL spillway.
Nickey said current plans are for the trencher to operate 12 hours a day – 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. – five days a week. Some weekend work is expected. Maintenance work will be done during the night.
This time, according to an advisory council member, the excess soil mix that bubbled up and out of the trench cut for the seepage barrier will be removed as it comes up rather than stockpiled like it was in Phase I. Once the trencher gets a reasonable lead moving down North Bank, work will begin on the top finish which includes a concrete cap over both the seepage barrier and buttress wall with that capped by asphalt walkway/bike path/maintenance roadway.
ODNR now has decided to replace the entire sidewalk along its property line in the front of the dam front homes. Nickey describes the sidewalk as for “local access” and the asphalt roadway for “public access.” Earlier plans were just to repair deteriorated sections. The rest of the top finish work includes cutting off the existing sheet pile wall or removing the existing masonry wall. Both are to be removed to a minimum depth of 12 inches below the designed elevation of the crest of the stability berm. The work also includes grading, establishing turf and placing larger rip rap on top of the small rip rap already in place.
The council member reported that ODNR is “still not there yet on the dock details,” though Brian Hicks said there will be no more discussion about electricity at any docks. Any power desired on a dock must be solar generated. Dock gang planks will have to be removed during the winter.
Nickey’s update asked residents if they see someone across the fence on the berm to ‘say something.’ He asked residents “to call the ODNR Communications Center at 614-799-9538 if you see an unauthorized individual on the berm or watercraft inside the safety zone.”
After a couple of incidents where children in Buckeye Lake Village removed the pins securing the emergency access fence panels to play or swim along the new dam, ODNR is now securing the panels with heavy duty cable ties. First-responders are aware that they will have to cut the ties to get through the fence. Dam front residents should also be prepared to cut the ties if they need to get through the fence to escape a fire or help someone in trouble on the lake.