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Fifth Avenue Dam repair project begins Dec. 26


The Department of Enterprise Services will oversee repairs for downtown Olympia's Fifth Avenue Dam beginning Dec. 26, with work potentially extending into early spring.

This $195,000 project comprises a series of critical repairs to keep the dam located between Budd Inlet and Capitol Lake operational.

Project impacts

Starting on Dec. 26, some visitor parking near the dam will be converted to a staging area for the project and unavailable for use.There also may be occasional vehicle and pedestrian traffic diversions necessary during the project, but no extended road closures are anticipated. Passersby may notice some noise from small power tools and a portable generator used to power the construction. The contractor is also expected to periodically employ divers and a crane at the site.

Planned repairs

The project will repair three high-priority areas of the dam. In an evaluation funded by the 2015 Capital Budget, Enterprise Services found that although the dam's basic structural components remain sound, there are some critical priority repairs or replacements that need to be made, particularly in the emergency back-up systems.

The dam was built from 1949-52 to control water levels in Capitol Lake, which is a 260-acre man-made reservoir that takes in fresh water from the Deschutes River.

These critical repairs will replace vital mechanisms of the dam:

  1. Four grease tubes that allow lubrication of the main tide gate bearings.
  2. Two cable-attachment systems on the dam's west tide gate, including missing chains, to keep the backup dam hydraulic system working in case of electrical or mechanical failure.
  3. Both hydraulic cylinders of the emergency backup system. The existing system requires divers to manually attach underwater cables to the gates when the primary controls fail.

The work is being performed by Rognlin's, a family-owned Aberdeen contractor that has been in business since the 1950s. Under U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations, in-water work on the project can be done between Nov. 20 through Feb. 15, and the work above the water can be done between Nov. 20 and April 15.

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