Tempe green-lights contract for lake's steel dam

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TEMPE, Ariz. -- In a unanimous vote, the Tempe City Council approved a $24 million construction for a new steel dam for the west end Tempe Town Lake.

Thursday's green light means the construction contractor, PCL Construction, and the engineers can finalize the design of the steel-gate dam and put the installation plans into motion.

At this point, manufacturing on dam should start in January. On-site construction and installation is scheduled to begin in April.

The project is slated for completion by Dec. 28, 2015. If it goes past that date, the city will have to start paying a monthly rental fee to Bridgestone for the rubber bladders.

Plans for a permanent dam solution were put in place after one of the four rubber bladders holding back the millions of gallons of lake water burst in spectacular fashion on a summer night in July 2010.

The lake was empty within hours, and it stayed that way for about three months while crews made repairs and installed a replacement bladder.

Tempe Town Lake reopened in late October 2010 with a cofferdam in place. The last of the new rubber bladders was installed later. The unique pedestrian bridge over the dam, which also houses sprinklers to cool the rubber bladders and serves as shade for the dam, opened a year later.

The process to replace the rubber dam with a permanent structure have been moving smoothly.

In September, the City Council gave the go-ahead to a $12.4 million contract to buy a steel gate with hydraulic pistons.

The total price tag for the dam replacement project is about $40 million.

Tempe Town Lake, with its rubber-bladder dam, was built in the late '90s. It was filled with water from the Central Arizona Project in a process that took more than a month during the summer of 1999. Tempe Town Lake officially opened to the public several months later, on Nov. 7, 1999.