Intake project construction begins

Sunday, July 14, 2019
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The second phase of the Intake Diversion Dan Project is underway. There is limited access to the area, particularly Joe’s Island, during construction.

The second phase of the Intake Diversion Dam Project is finally underway after multiple delays.

The goal of the project is to create a bypass channel for the endangered pallid sturgeon to be able to get around the Intake dam to spawning grounds upstream and install a new weir dam. The first phase was completed in 2012.

Crews have already began clearing away the brush where the bypass channel will be going, according to the Army Corps of Engineers project manager Jeremy Szynskie.

Installation of the new weir will also be started soon. Szynskie said the weir replacement will take part in two sections. The first section will be started sometime in August and is expected to be done by February of next year. The second section will begin in July 2020 and will most likely be done some time in the winter.

All together, the project is expected to take about three years to complete. The work is being done by Ames Construction out of Aurora, Colo.

To accommodate the construction, the Bureau of Reclamation has closed off Joe’s Island and the surrounding area, affecting about 1,335 acres of land, according to a press release from the Bureau.

“This temporary closure is necessary to ensure public safety and the safe and efficient operation of the construction project,” said Steve Davies, Area Manager of the Montana Area Office.

However, the press release stated that the camping area at Intake on the north side of the river and the Intake fishing access site will not be affected. On the south side of the river, County Road 303 is not expected to be affected either. No other closures are expected in the area.

The Intake Project has been in varying stages of progress for a long while now, with the first phase of the project ending in 2012. Since then, the second phase has been stalled by multiple law suits from environmental groups and a dispute over the awarding of the contract bid from a small electrical company. Now that everything is settled though, work is moving forward.

According to Szynskie, the plans for the project have not changed over the years and crews are moving forward with the same plan that was decided on when the project began.

Through it all, Szynskie noted that cooperation between all of the organizations involved has been positive and progressive.

“It’s been a great partnership between the Bureau of Reclamation, Ames Construction, the Army Corps of Engineers, Fish, Wildlife and Parks, we’re looking forward to seeing this done,” Szynskie said.

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