The Department of Transportation and Development is nearing closer to accepting bids to fix the Vernon Lake Dam due to damages the occur during Hurricane Harvey in late August 2017.
The DOTD aims to start the project in the spring of 2019 and to finish it in the summer of 2019.
"We have designed a repair project for it," Assistant District Administrator of Engineering for the DOTD Jonathan Lachney said. "We are acquiring some funding through FEMA and some will come from DOTD to pay for the repairs. We've prepared plans, and we have to have a contract to bid it, because the DOTD doesn't have the resources because it costs too much. We have to bid it out to contractors to do the work. The DOTD will administer the inspection on the contract when the contractor does the work. Basically, we design it, bid out, the contractor perform the work and we inspect the work. It takes about four or five months to do the work."
The DOTD is keeping the water levels on the lake low to keep pressure off of the dam now and during construction.
"During a small rain, we're going to watch the levels and drop the gate down if we need to," Lachney said. "The intent is to keep in approximately where it is until we can get the dam fixed. Obvious reasons are that you don't want a bunch of water pushing against the dam and have a potential failure."
Whomever wins the bid in the fall will stabilize the dam following damage due to a surplus of rain.
"During Hurricane Harvey, there was a slide that developed," Lachney said. "When you talk about the dam, it's composed of a levee that is about a mile long and it has a spillway at the end of it. The levee on the opposite side of the lake had an embankment slide at the end of it. There was also an existing slide on the lake side that grew a little bit. Also, when we drew the water down to determine how bad the slide was on the lake side, we found some additional erosion on the front side of the spillway.
"It could affect the strength of the embankment. It's designed to hold a certain amount of water, and if you take away that section, it could breach. There is no immediate threat to it, but we have to use caution and fix it. That's why we brought the water level down."