East Branch Dam project extended

Photo submitted - Shown is a portion of the East Branch Dam cutoff wall construction project.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

JOHNSONBURG – Another nine months have been added to the East Branch Dam cutoff wall construction project with an anticipated completion date of March 22, 2020.
Inclement weather, specifically harsh winters, changing on-site conditions and geological conditions have contributed to the additional timeframe.
According to Denise Polizzano, area engineer, when drilling and grouting is being done crews are unsure of what to expect until they begin working in a specific area.
"There is no way to forecast or foresee what's exactly down in the ground and we want to make sure and be conservative that when we go to do this permanent wall we don't have any problems whatsoever," Polizzano said. "We would rather be cautious and take our time doing this drilling grouting because it's very critical for us in the execution of the permanent wall."
Some additional items at the end of the contract such as paving cannot be completed in February or March because typical asphalt plants only open in April and close in October. Seeding and planting must also wait to be done in the spring.
June 2019 has been the expected finish date of the project since 2014.
On Wednesday evening, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Pittsburgh district were on hand to discuss details of the East Branch Dam Safety Initiative during their annual public meeting held at Johnsonburg Area High School.
USACE owns and operates East Branch.
The project cost has increased an additional $20 million with the final cost expected at nearly $159 million.
In September 2014, the project initially came in at $132 million, increasing to $135 million in April 2016 then to just over $138 million in November.
The project is currently 53 percent complete.