Contractors using $3.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding began work in February 2010, when U.S. Highway 221 over the dam was reduced to one lane and a traffic light was installed.
The scope of the project was later expanded to address corrosion and rust on the lifting mechanisms in some of the gates, raising the cost to $5.5 million. It later increased again to $6.2 million. The current contract calls for completion in August.
“The contractor is currently on gate 15 and has to get to gate 23,” said Thurmond project manager Scott Hyatt. “We expect work to be complete well before that, but weather or other unforseen delays could push it back.”
The contractor is Atlantic Marine Corp. of Virginia Beach, Va.
Because of the construction, lake levels were to be kept 2 feet below full pool – at 328 feet above sea level instead of the 330-foot level. However, because of extended drought, the reservoir has remained lower than usual in recent months and was at 321.92 feet Wednesday morning.
The lake normally fills to its full pool of 330 feet by mid-April, but the newest Army Corps of Engineers projections foresee the lake remaining between 322 and 323 feet through early May, unless large amounts of rain fall.