Dam repair project finishes after six months
By Scott Bellile
South Nash Street is open to traffic again following more than six months of construction on Hortonville’s Black Otter Lake Dam.
Village officials marked the event with a brief ribbon cutting at noon on Friday, Nov. 13. Minutes later road traffic control workers had construction barrels and barriers hauled away and drivers were passing through for the first time since April.
Recent months have consisted of frequent complaints and misuse of detours, village officials said at recent village board meetings.
“It is what it is, and now it’s done,” Hortonville Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Mischker said Friday. “I just think people are so happy to be using it again that that’s going to help a lot.”
The repair project, which started April 27, was expected to last 90 days. But Lunda Construction workers encountered various problems along the way, including problems with the dam’s foundation, soil erosion underneath the bridge abutments and questions over how the village’s costs would be shared with Outagamie County.
Village trustee Al Habeck said it’s been a frustrating time for the residents and businesses inconvenienced by the road closure, so he is happy to see everything back to normal.
Kay Brick, owner of Brick’s Hortonville Hardware, opened her store on South Nash Street in April right before the repair began. It’s been a long wait, she said, and she’s been fielding a lot of questions from shoppers asking how to get to her store.
“I’m just glad it’s open. Our customers are just ecstatic,” Brick said.
For Claire Abitz, owner of art and handmade goods store Fox Valley Found + Collected, she made the most of the dam repair. She opened her store in the former police station next to the dam and needed the months prior to her October opening to work on the building without customers or traffic.
“It was nice for us to be quiet so we could move things around,” Abitz said.
The Black Otter Lake Dam repair was initiated after a 2010 Dam Failure Analysis revealed that homes along Black Otter Lake were at danger of flooding in the case of a torrential 1,000-year rain event.
Hortonville Public Works Director Carl McCrary said the analysis found Black Otter Lake Dam had the capability to withstand less than a 300-year rain event. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources gave it a High Hazard rating.
McCrary said the total cost of the project is currently estimated at $870,000, with a preliminary figure for grant reimbursement estimated at $317,547.
He said the village expects to pay $447,984, and it has an additional $39,318 in previous expenses toward the dam that date back to the 2010 Dam Failure Analysis. Those previous expenses are eligible for grant reimbursement, he said.
Outagamie County is expected to contribute $65,150, McCrary said.
This won’t be the end of work on Black Otter Lake Dam, however. Village President Traci Martens said Outagamie County has expedited plans to replace the bridge within the next five years. That project is separate from the State Highway 15 bypass scheduled to begin construction in 2018.
“We’d like it to happen after the bypass is complete so it’ll be easier with the traffic,” Village President Traci Martens said about the next stage.