by Jennifer Sierra
Public works is working on the installation and the removal of the floodgates today. They need to be inspected by Army Corps of Engineers. According to Michael Giffen, the city manager of Dayton, Kentucky, the city put the floodgates up back in March due to high water but had only taken them down partially because they needed to be inspected by the Army Corps of Engineers. The floodgates have to be inspected every 5 years.. There has been some controversy over the fact that the floodgates have remained up since then, partially blocking traffic flow on Kentucky State Route 8. This inspection is going to block the street all day today, Wednesday, June 3rd. The street closure will be in effect until late Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Rick Lucas, the Public Works manager said, “We have been out here since 5:30 this morning and we are going to work until 8:00 or so this evening and see where we are. This is the first time the floodgates have been completely installed in many years and they need to be inspected,” Lucas said. “We are working as quickly as we can.”
The inspector makes the city assemble the wall, lock it into the ground and sidewalls and they climb on it to check all of the bolts that fasten it together. It gets looked over with a fine-toothed comb. The bolts are massive and sometimes the walls have to be moved slightly to fit exactly into place. There are large rubber strips that go down under the wall for sandbags and the structure gets locked and braced into place. To assemble the walls into place takes many men and many hours. It is a tedious process. It isn’t like you can just press a button and the gates close. “When the river gets to 50’, I put up the very ends of the wall (enough to allow partial traffic flow through the wall) then I watch the water and the weather and wait. As it rises, I can then put the rest up quicker because I don’t have so many parts of the wall to install,” Lucas said. He pointed to the top of the flood wall and said the gates, after being completely installed, will reach the top of the floodwall. “That is 70’. If the river gets to that point, we have bigger things to worry about than this flood wall,” he said with a no-joke look in his eyes. That river level hasn’t been seen in Dayton since the 1937 flood, a marker all floods are measured by here.”People get mad about us having to do this but if something were to happen to their property, we would be the first people that would be held responsible for it, first me then Michael Giffen (Dayton’s city manager),” Lucas remarked.
To get close to the assembled wall, gives one a feeling of awe for the engineering that goes into such a structure. It is amazing and all of the pieces are so heavy that machines, not just manpower have to put it together. The gate in Newport, Kentucky is built in such a way it just swings open. It is a much easier system to manage and install. The Dayton Public Works Department is spending a lot of time on this to keep Dayton safe from rising water.