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Thurlow work complete

By Michael Butler

The gate replacement project at Thurlow Dam is complete. The modern Oberymeyer steel gates now take the place of the former 36 flashboard wooden gate system that had been used since the dam's construction in 1928.

Each flashboard was 12 feet high and 28 feet long. The Obermeyer gates use adjustable, inflatable bladders to control the gates and more accurately manage water resources.

“The new gates will allow us better control of the flow over the spillway,” said Thurlow Dam Superintendent Joel Johnson. "We wanted to do our best to make sure the improved Thurlow Dam looks like the Thurlow we all know and remember."

The price tag for the project was estimated at a hefty $20 million through the Birmingham-based company Brasfield and Gorrie. The length of the spillway is appoximatley 1,100 feet.

"(Before) you had 36 individual gates," Johnson said. "(Now) you have spans. The first span is about 45 feet long. Span two is 342 feet. Spans three and four are 380 feet each. Each span will operate independently of the other spans."

Water levels will now return to normal levels on Lake Talisi. Alabama Power operates 14 hydroelectric plants in the state.

"This one is unique. It sits underneath a bridge. We have very few of these," Johnson added. "If you think about the technology back in '28, they didn't have computers. That's a lot of good engineering back in those days."