East Branch awarded additional project funding

Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

An additional $18.7 million was recently awarded to the East Branch Clarion River Lake Dam Safety Project as reported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District.
This new allocation is in addition to the $14 million provided in the FY19 President’s Budget. The additional funds will be used to continue construction of a 2,100 ft. long, 260 ft. deep concrete cutoff wall within the existing earthen dam to permanently address seepage-related issues.
The Army Corps is receiving $123.7 million in additional Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations for regional water resource infrastructure projects. Total appropriations are expected to be more than $250 million.
“This is welcome news for residents in Elk County and the surrounding region,” said Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-5). “I applaud the Army Corps Pittsburgh District for working with Congress to ensure that we can continue provide robust funding for critical water infrastructure, which will ultimately keep our communities safe and increase recreational and tourism opportunities throughout the Pennsylvania Wilds.”
The project’s anticipated completion date is March 22, 2020.
As of November 2017, project costs increased an additional $20 million with the final cost expected at nearly $159 million.
In September 2014, the project initially came in at $132 million, increasing to $135 million in April 2016 then to just over $138 million in November.
The project is currently over 53 percent complete.
“These additional funds provide a boost to the regional economy while maintaining and improving our vital water resource infrastructure,” said Col. Andrew “Coby” Short, Pittsburgh District commander. “This will help ensure we fulfill our commitment to reduce flooding, provide reliable navigation, enhance the environment and offer quality recreation for the citizens of the Upper Ohio River Basin.”
Among some of the economic positives resulting in the project have been upgraded roads and facilities at East Branch, use of local contractors and suppliers, housing rentals and hotel bookings, increased business to local restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and more, purchasing of oil, machine parts, and equipment rentals in the area, repairs on state Routes 1001 and 1004, and East Branch Lake remaining able to contribute to flood protection, fisheries and water quality benefits while under repair.
Approximately 100 workers have been employed as part of the project, with that number likely to increase to 150 once the project is in full production.
In 1957, a repair was made to East Branch Dam, an earth and embankment dam, due to seepage caused by internal erosion. The void was the size of a school bus. The repair has been in place 60 years and the dam has been monitored since then.
In February 2008, the lake level was lowered after a screening showed an increased risk of possible internal erosion across the embankment. As part of stringent risk reduction measures, the dam was monitored on a 24-hour basis.

The full article can be found in Nov. 30 edition of the Ridgway Record.