The BPA funded the $5 million project on four spillway gates at Foster
By Alex Paul
SWEET HOME — A $5 million repair project on the four spillway gates at Foster Dam is expected to be completed by the end of the month, allowing the road across the top of the dam to be reopened to traffic in April.
Roger Kline, operations superintendent for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Willamette Valley Projects, said a contract was let in October 2008 after an inspection revealed there were deformities in some of the massive steel arms that move the gates up and down.
Kline stretched out his right arm, folded his hand into a fist and then slightly twisted it to the left to describe the "deformities.”
Repair on the first gate began in January 2009. Parts have been moved into position by a huge crane that sits on top of the dam.
"We operate the dams with multiple uses in mind, but life safety is paramount above all other items,” said Kline, who works out of the Corps’ office in Lowell.
The arms and gates are the original units installed when the dam was built in 1968.
Knight Construction of Deer Park, Wash., has been in charge of the project. Each of the gates is 36 feet tall, 45 feet wide and weighs about 140,000 pounds. The gates themselves were not deficient and were not replaced, Kline said.
The work has centered around replacing the huge beams on the lift arms, installing new wrist pines and bushings and bottom and side seals.
The project was paid for through the Bonneville Power Administration, which purchases power generated at both Foster and Green Peter dams.
Water was diverted from the spillways through huge pipes called penstocks and run through the power house turbines, Kline said.
Kline called the project "highly successful.”
"It was a great project that was acted on very quickly,” Kline said.
About the dams
Foster and Green Peter dams are both concrete structures. Foster Reservoir is 3.5 miles long and when full covers 1,220 acres. Green Peter Reservoir is 10 miles long and when full covers 3,720 acres.
Foster Dam can generate as much as 20,000 kilowatts of power and Green Peter as much as 80,000 kilowatts.
Staff is on duty in the Foster power house around the clock, 365 days per year, Kline said.