Alabama Power’s spillway gate replacement project at Thurlow Dam has won both a state and national award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) excellence in construction (EIC) competition.
The project took first place for the Alabama chapter and placed second in the national competition for heavy infrastructure.
The EIC award honors every member of the construction team, including the contractor, owner, architect and engineer. Brasfield & Gorrie, a construction firm headquartered in Birmingham, was the contractor for the project.
The work at Thurlow involved the removal of the original spillway gates, known as flashboards, which were part of the dam’s construction in the 1920s. The flashboards were replaced with a modern, pneumatically actuated gate system designed by Obermeyer Hydro Inc., with gates that are raised and lowered by changing the air pressure in a bladder.
The Obermeyer gates are raised and lowered by inflating or deflating a large rubber bladder with pressurized air. This innovative design is superior to the previous flashboard gatesystem and allows the Hydro Reservoir Management team significantly more control of spillway flows and reservoir levels during and after flood events, resulting in safer operations and preservation of water resources.
“The new digital control system in combination with the Obermeyer gates greatly enhance our ability to manage flows in a variety of ways not available with the old mechanical flashboards,” said Christy Nix, Reservoir Operations lead engineer. “The new system allows us to control by maintaining a specific lake level for Thurlow or by releasing a specific amount of flow. The old flashboard design didn’t allow such flexibility.”
Chris Goodman, manager for the Tallapoosa River dams, said in his letter of recommendation for the award that Brasfield & Gorrie “met our high expectations on schedule and completed the project on time, even in the face of significant weather events.”
The ABC awards program is the construction industry’s leading national competition that honors general and specialty contractors for world-class, safe and innovative construction projects from across the nation.
The winning projects are judged on complexity, attractiveness, unique challenges overcome, completion time, workmanship, innovation, safety and cost.