Contract awarded for Wolf Creek Dam spillway gates replacement project

6 October 2022

American Bridge Company has won a $109.45 million contract from the US Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District for the Wolf Creek Dam Spillway Gates replacement project.

Located on the Cumberland River in Jamestown, Kentucky, Wolf Creek Dam forms Lake Cumberland. Replacement of the dam’s spillway gates is needed because a Spillway Radial Gate Evaluation Design Document Report in 2016 revealed the 10 spillway tainter gates are subject to overstress due to trunnion friction issues. In addition, the gates and lifting equipment have been in operation since the dam was completed for full beneficial use in 1952.

The scope of this contract includes fabrication of 10 new spillway tainter gates; removal of existing gates and lifting machinery equipment required to operate the gates; and installation of the new gates and lifting machinery equipment.

Capt. Joseph R. Cotton, Nashville District project manager, said the contractor will systematically replace each gate. The contractor is limited to three inoperable gates at any period of time, always leaving seven operable gates. As an additional risk reduction measure, only one gate bay will be open at any given time during construction. Replacement of gates will only occur between June and November each year, which is considered the dry season, targeting lower peak summer lake elevations.

This replacement project will ensure the authorized flood-risk-reduction capabilities of this project will be realized for many years to come. During construction, “the key takeaway is that public safety is our top priority,” Cotton said. “Corps of Engineers’ water managers will maintain lake levels within current parameters agreed upon with the Southeastern Power Administration and the public will not experience significant drawdowns of the lake elevation. The most distinguishable change to reservoir levels during the construction period, may be a lower peak summer pool from 723 feet to closer to 720 feet. This adjustment would lower project risk during construction while still falling within current operating targets.”

The contractor will have to modify the bridge substructure to accommodate replacement of the 10 spillway tainter gates, which are 37ft high and 50ft wide, and to access lifting machinery equipment. This includes wire rope and drum setup, and replacement of high and low-speed gear boxes, 10 horsepower electric motor, bull and pinion gears, and the machinery base on each gate pier.

The replacement of the spillway tainter gates and lifting machinery equipment will not affect the operation of the dam’s six hydroelectric generating units, which have an estimated annual energy output of 800,000,000 kWh of hydropower.

The project is fully funded by the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Nashville awarded a $109,450,000 contract September 28, 2022, to American Bridge Company for the Wolf Creek Dam Spillway Gates Replacement Project. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

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