9/5/2013 5:11 PM
by Karen Franklin
HINTON - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guided West Virginians on a tour of Bluestone Dam for a chance to see its operation at the start of two million dollar construction projects.
Although access to the top of the dam was closed following 9/11, hundreds of residents came out Thursday for a rare chance to walk above the river.
"We hadn't been able to do that since 2001 -- 9/11," Paul Carr, of the Corps, told WOAY. "Used to be people would be able to walk across the dam like they're doing today. You get a real god view on top of the dam what's going on below the dam."
Engineers said the 1948 dam has prevented more than $2 billion in flood damages.
On Thursday workers were busy with two downstream projects totaling $150 million. One project will increase stabilization, while the other will create a basin and training walls, according to workers on site.
"This project provides some great flood protection for downstream, and so what we're doing here is bringing it up to today's safety standards so we can continue to provide the safety protection and flood risk reduction downstream," Dean Bonafacio said.
Both projects are to ensure the dam's stability in the case of unusually high water levels.
"If it failed, it'd be a major event all the way down to Kanawha Valley, and the loss of lives and everything would be tremendous, so it's really a dam insurance that it never fails," said the owner of Heeter Construction Inc., David Heeter.
Phase five of the dam project, which is in the works, is expected to be completed in 2025.