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Phase 1 of Thurlow project complete

By Michael Butler

Water levels are to return to full pool after part one of a two-stage project on Thurlow Dam in Tallassee.

Thurlow Dam superintendent Joel Johnson has been seen the progression of the gate replacement system since it began this summer.

"I've been very involved with it," he said. "I get out there just about every day. Brassfield and Gorrie has done an excellent job."

The Birmingham-based company has been putting in ten hour days, six days a week to stay on schedule.

"We're about 95 percent complete with phase one," said Johnson. "We're going to start doing some testing. Hopefully by the 15th of December we'll be ready to go in operation."

The first two spans, roughly a third of the 36 gates, have been replaced with the newer Obermeyer Gate System. The remainder of the work is scheduled for completion in 2019.

"The spillway total is about 1,100 feet. Span one ended up being 40 feet, which were going to use to move logs over the spillway. Span two is 342 feet. Span three and four will be 346 feet each.

'Pouring the concrete, putting all the steel in the spillway, putting all the anchor bolts in, is very meticulous work. Your concrete has to be perfect. It has to be a certain temperature. We had to send several trucks back because they didn't meet specs. We have to test, put it on a barge, take it out and pour it."

Some of the electronics testing has begun with the computer-run spillway.

"We didnt' want to bite off more than we could chew in one year," Johnson added. "We've had no recordable accidents in phase one. We did have some bee stings. Safety has been priority one."

The previously used flashboards are 12 feet high and 28 feet long and are being donated to the Tallassee Redevelopment Authority.

"Jeremy Taunton was very instrumental in that. As we've gotten the old gates off we've packaged it all up on pallets. From what I understand, I think there is a plan to try to refurbish the old bridge and use the wood as a walkway."

Johnson believes that when all the work is done that Lake Talisi will be much improved for those that utilize it.

"The thing that they've had to deal with is every time we have a spill and the water starts to recede the lake drops six or seven feet. The people west of the bridge are dry. Their boats are sitting in the mud. That's going to go away. We're going to be able to keep the lake up full even during a spill. The gates will come up and hold that water back.

"That's going to be an advantage. I think that's going to help property values around the lake. I think it's really going to help fishing. If you can keep the lake full, the spawning season's going to go better. I think it's really going to help a lot to keep that lake full now."

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