Two-month project expected to be finished by Sept. 15
By Pat Payton
A crew of workers from McLean-Taylor Construction Ltd. recently started a two-month project to repair the top of the scenic dam, where the Thames River and Trout Creek converge in downtown St. Marys.
“It’s being called The Town of St. Marys Surface Repairs to the Dam, that’s the official name of it,” says Kyle McCutcheon, a Senior Manager at McLean-Taylor. “It will extend the life of the dam.”
Work began on July 15, and McCutcheon says the job is expected to be completed by Sept. 15.
“On the vertical face of the dam itself, it’s built of both limestone blocks and of poured concrete,” he told the Independent. “We’re repointing the limestone blocks, and we’re chipping and patching the surface of the poured concrete, as well as rebuilding the top, which we call the crest of the dam.
“A lot of spots on the crest have deteriorated and we’re rebuilding those so it will have a uniformed height across.”
Project costing about $280,000
Jeff Wolfe, engineering specialist for the Town of St. Marys, says the cost of the project is about $280,000.
“We are doing repointing in some spots and we’re also doing isolated concrete repairs,” Wolfe explained.
“We actually tendered it last year; it was included in last year’s capital plan, but we allowed the construction to happen this year. We’ve been planning the project since 2018.”
The engineer says they’ve had inquiries from the public why only isolated patches are being repaired rather than the entire dam.
“Dams are regulated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and we are working within the approval framework that the ministry has established for dam structures,” Wolfe said.
“We cannot complete repairs to the entire structure without going through an extensive approval process, so we are prioritizing repairs to areas that have experienced more significant erosion. This will restore structural integrity to those areas and reduce the likelihood of a structural failure in the future.”
Inspection done in 2014
The town hired a consulting firm to do an inspection of the dam back in 2014, Wolfe noted.
“They reviewed the structure, the same time as the flood wall project with the Upper Thames,” he said. “There was a study done on the condition of the flood wall and the dam at that time.”
There were a number of recommendations made by an engineer from BM Ross on maintenance activities required, Wolfe recalled. “We’ve been working away on those since that time.”