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Spillway to be completed by September target date

Spillway to be completed by September target date
Spillway to be completed by September target date | Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee Department of Transportation, spillway project
Staff Reporter
Construction of the new $19.9 million spillway at Reelfoot Lake is on target to be completed by the end of September, according to Jason Baker, the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s spillway project manager.
In June 2009, the state transportation department awarded the bid to build a new spillway to Dement Construction of Jackson. The cost to build the new spillway is $19,904,421.
The TDOT is replacing the existing spillway, which was built in 1931, since it “has outlived its design life, is deteriorating, and is no longer adequate to manage the water level of Reelfoot Lake.”
“The existing spillway is considered structurally deficient and the results of the most recent inspection indicate that the current structure has experienced advanced section loss, deterioration, spalling and scour,” according to a TDOT statement.
The new spillway is actually located about 1,000 feet west of the existing spillway bridge.
“As for the current status, the project is progressing well,” Baker told The Messenger. “The new SR-21 bridge is complete. The new spillway channel is also nearly complete. The majority of the new spillway structure has been constructed. Once the new spillway is open and operational, the old spillway will be back-filled to prevent water leaking through the old spillway. The contract completion date for this project is Sept. 30, 2012.”
Reelfoot Lake has experienced some dramatic environmental shifts during the past three years. The lake experienced record-setting drought conditions in 2010, followed by last year’s extreme flooding and now this summer has brought back severe heat and drought conditions.
In the spring of 2011, water levels along the Mississippi River and at Reelfoot Lake exceeded the flooding from the historic floods of 1937. The Mississippi River directly impacted Reelfoot Lake as floodwaters washed into the lake in late April to early May 2011.
The spillway project dates back to 1998 and has undergone several design changes. While the spillway has been under construction, ridged metal panels have been used to hold back the water from emptying into the lagoon and up to the spillway gates. Once everything is completed on the spillway, the metal panels will be removed and water will be allowed to flow freely into the lagoon.
“I’m very pleased. It’s going to be a very nice and unique structure,” Lake County Mayor Macie Roberson told The Messenger earlier this week.
He said the new spillway will be capable of doing a much better job of managing the water level on Reelfoot Lake.
Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire said he, too, is pleased to see the spillway project nearing completion.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at

Published in The Messenger 7.27.12

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