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Massive project is on schedule

W. Kenneth Medley II • Updated May 8, 2019 at 9:15 AM

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Boone Dam project, with a projected cost of $450 million, is chugging along on schedule, which means heavy equipment now sits atop the dam, infrastructure is in place and immense holes are being set for boring.

A drill 60-inches wide is in place to begin drilling into the dam, according to Mary Ellen Miller, TVA spokeswoman. The project is now ready to move into the Technique Area Install and Approve phase, according to an online schedule and confirmed by Miller.

“This is definitely a significant milestone in the project,” Miller said in an interview, “because this heavy equipment is now up on top of the dam and we are beginning installation of casing, which is a major portion of the work that has to happen in the remediation of the dam.”

Infrastructure at the dam site is in the form of a concrete manufacturing facility and wastewater treatment plant. The concrete facility is on the corner of Boone Dam and Minga roads. The heavy equipment is behind a light and sound barrier but is still visible because of the great height.

“It is very visible to the public and we have concrete accessible right there as we work on the project,” Miller said. “We do not have to go off site or rely on anything external in terms of getting concrete to the project.”

All of this has been put into place to support the construction of a cut-off wall that will mitigate water seepage under the dam. The wall is on time to be completed in the spring of 2021. After its completion, fluctuations of the lake will begin, Miller said.

The fluctuation schedule will be made available to the public at a future date, according to Miller. Currently there is more focus on the construction of the wall. The lake fluctuations will occur for just over a year into July 2022.

Once the Boone Dam project is complete, Miller said that efforts to restore the area “as it was or better” will be made. She said the Tennessee Valley Authority is planning ahead on this project.

“We understand that the boat ramp is extremely popular,” Miller said. “We are working on plans to try and determine ways to best support the public’s need for ramp access in the future. We are working on that right now with our Natural Resources Department.”

When the project is complete, the concrete facility, wastewater treatment facility and slurry plants will be gone, Miller said. They are but temporary facilities to facilitate the dam repair. The parking lot made for the approximate 200 workers will be considered because of Boone Beach’s popularity.

Extensive preparation work that went into the site has made for few surprises. The project continues and Miller attributes, at least in part, the ability to stay on track to the drilling and grouting of the earthen embankment prior to this phase. She said that it gave to team a pretty clear picture of what they would encounter as the project continues.

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