Crane on the dam road

A crane atop the Lake Shelbyville Dam road helped stop the water, so repairs could be made to the dam. The road is to be open by Jan. 1.

The Lake Shelbyville road across the dam has been closed for going on two months. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it now has a projected date of reopening by the first of the year.

According to Shane Corley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the reason for the road being closed was due repair work on the dam, not the road.

“We just had a meeting last week, and the projected finish to the work is at the end of December,” Corley said. “The work seems to be on schedule, providing there are not any delays due to weather. There are heaters in there and the crew can work when it is pretty cold.”

Corley said the dam is inspected every year and it is just time for a few repairs after 50 years.

“The dam was built in 1970 and these are the first major repairs to be done,” Corley said. “The life expectancy of the dam projected there would need to be repairs done. There has been routine maintenance done in the past, but nothing this extensive.”

Corley said that there was repair work being done on one of the three Tainter gates that are used to release water through the dam into the Kaskaskia River for flood risk management below.

The dam road was closed about the 1st of October and a crane was brought in on top of the dam.

“The crane was used put “stop logs” in place to prevent lake water on the upstream side from entering in the gate,” Corley said. “When the work is done, they’ll pull the stop logs out.”

The stop logs are actually steel plates that go on top of each other. Corley said that the small parking lot on top of the dam is where those stop logs are stored when not in use.

Corley said, the stop logs were put in and then the workers built a platform for working on the area.

“They replaced knee braces and found some other repairs that delayed the work a little,” Corley said. “The structural part is repaired. Now they are stripping, sandblasting and painting.”

He said the public can anticipate work being scheduled to be done in the future on the other two gates.

“We were hoping to have this work done this summer, but the water was too high,” Corley said. “We had to wait for the water to go down to a certain level to begin the repairs.”

Water can still be released through the other gates or through the sluice gates below.

Corley confirmed that when the big crane appears on top of the dam after Christmas, that the repairs are done and the road will soon open again.

Currently the only way across the Kaskaskia River is on Route 16 just south of the dam, or down stream from Shelbyville on rural bridges, or north on the Bruce-Findlay Road.

John Curtis can be reached at

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