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Buckeye Lake Dam Completed Under Budget, Ahead of Schedule
Ohio Ag Connection - 11/09/2018

Construction has finished on the 4.1-mile dam at Buckeye Lake State Park. The project was completed nearly two years earlier than initially expected and more than $40 million under the projected cost, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a report in March 2015 that detailed the threat Buckeye Lake dam posed to the community due to its deteriorated condition, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich instructed ODNR to pursue replacement of the dam. Kasich, with support from the Ohio General Assembly, announced in March 2015 the plans to rebuild the nearly 200-year-old, 4.1-mile earthen dam.

"The safety of high-risk dams in Ohio has been a priority for my administration, and the dam at Buckeye Lake State Park has for decades been recognized as the most in need of rebuilding," said Kasich. "After too many years of debate and delay, we now have a dam that meets strict safety standards and gives new life to this park and the surrounding community. Ahead of schedule and under budget, we are able to say, 'We got it done.'" Now complete, the new dam at Buckeye Lake State Park provides visitors with a new access path that extends the entire length of the 4.1-mile structure. This path will allow visitors at Buckeye Lake to jog, bike or walk while enjoying easier access to this state park property. Additionally, residents living along the lake have a new separate private sidewalk in front of their homes.

"The deteriorating condition of Buckeye Lake dam posed an enormous risk to the people who live and work in the region," said ODNR Director James Zehringer. "With the completion of this project, we have helped secure the safety of the community, the continued use of this great recreational resource, and the future growth and prosperity of the Buckeye Lake region."

ODNR worked quickly to secure the funding and permits so work could begin to replace the aging and decaying dam. Phase I of the project was underway in the summer of 2015 and included work to mitigate the threat that the dam posed to the community in its deteriorated condition. A 30-foot-wide stability berm was constructed along the entire length of the dam. This stability berm was completed in just under three months, with operations running up to 24 hours a day. This was an emergency action to protect the region from a potential dam failure.

Phase II of the project was planned in 2016, and construction on the final structure launched in April 2017. First utilized during Phase I, a method of dam construction known as "soil mixing" was used to construct barriers beneath the ground to prevent seepage and potential dam failure. This method helped enable the construction teams to build the new dam more quickly than initial estimates.

The dam at Buckeye Lake was finished more than $40 million under budget at $107 million and was completed two years earlier than anticipated. Funding to ensure the safety of state-owned dams has reached record levels under Gov. Kasich. The governor's budgets since 2012 have allocated more than $329 million for long-needed rehabilitation and repairs at state-owned dams -- such as those at state parks, state forests and wildlife areas. That's an average increase of more than four times funding levels historically allocated to such projects since the late 1990s.

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