After being closed for nearly two months, the road across Hyrum Dam is open again.
Residents on the south side of the reservoir will no longer have to find alternative routes — mainly 2400 West — to travel north. The road was opened up early Wednesday afternoon. However, work by the spillway will continue for some time as the Bureau of Reclamation continues to test the ground and explore options for improving it.
“We’ve been working on this spillway project for five or six years in the design process,” said Mike Talbot, a resident engineer in the BOR Provo office. “The drill crew is out there and have been for a couple of months off and on. This last hole they drilled near the spillway took a few weeks.”
Holes are being drilled for seismic testing in preparation for fixing the spillway. The drill rigs are to collecting sub-surface data. They are trying to find bedrock.
“We are trying to get a design finished to possibly rebuild the spillway in the existing alignment,” Talbot said. “We have not got that far. We may have to build a new spillway in a separate alignment and abandon the old one. We have not made that decision yet.”
The drill rig is off the road, thus it has been opened. But that could change again in the future if the project requires it. Talbot, who was in Hyrum on Wednesday, said that is most likely a few years away.
The BOR inspects the dam and spillway every year.
“That spillway is pretty old,” Talbot said. “It was built in the ‘30s. Everything there is original construction, except for the steep chute. That was rebuilt in 2004, at least the floor of it. It is just old and not up to modern-day standards. There are just things that need to be fixed on it because it’s old. We’re just trying to decide what to fix and how extensive.”
Standards for dam and spillway construction are significantly different than they were in the ‘30s, Talbot said.
The spillway has been and will continue to be used as long as the water is high. Talbot said this particular spillway is used for about half of the year.
“There is no problem with it (the spillway) right now,” Talbot said. “It’s been spilling all winter long and continues to spill.”
And the dam itself is in good condition.
“Hyrum Dam has operated and performed extremely well over the years,” Talbot said. “The dam is good. We will probably not do anything with the dam. It’s mostly a spillway issue.”
Those in the Wellsville-Mendon Conservancy District will not have any interruptions in getting irrigation water from Hyrum Dam during this process. The Little Bear River continues to flow, as well as irrigation canals.
“Everything is fine” for irrigation, said Kirt Lindley, the water master for the district. “And the road should now be good to go.”
A ranger at Hyrum State Park said there has been no effect on the park and doesn’t see any in the future.