Wingwalls, West Tailrace road to be closed for repairs

PICK CITY – The West Tailrace road has been deteriorating for several years, making access difficult. Motorists have had to slow down, even drive in the wrong lane to avoid growing potholes and decaying pavement. That will change this summer if an improvement project gets under way as scheduled.

The large volume of water that passed through the Missouri River reservoirs in 2011 put dams and infrastructure to a severe test. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers embarked on a follow-up program to evaluate and repair any damage caused directly or indirectly by the record flows.

The cost of repairs totaled $234 million. Twelve of the projects deemed necessary were at Garrison Dam, the largest reservoir on the Missouri. Two of the Garrison Dam projects are set to get under way this summer.

“The road off Highway 200 will be repaved and completely redone,” said Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam project manager for the Corps. “The wingwalls will be closed this summer for a time.”

The road off Highway 200 is known as the West Tailrace road. The road leads to a scenic overlook of the Missouri River and also winds downhill to a the well utilized Tailrace fishing area. It is there that fishermen can choose from fishing off the rocks at water level or dropping a line into the water from high atop the wingwalls.

The wingwalls form a protective barrier to guard against churning water boiling through release tunnels. The tunnels were used to release water during the high water period of 2011. The tunnel gates are also scheduled for work this summer.

“When we repair the West Tailrace road we’ll also be doing repairs on the flood tunnel gates at the upper end of the wingwalls,” explained Lindquist. “The repairs are all part of a disaster appropriations measure.”

When the work projects will get under way is subject to several variables, including weather, but Lindquist says a preliminary start date is May 1. An official announcement will be made later when a precise date is determined.

It is not known how long the closure of the West Tailrace road and access to the wingwall fishing will last. When completed, the new roadway will feature wider shoulders and improved guardrails. No changes are anticipated at this time for the wingwall structures.