MANATEE -- The first phase of the Lake Manatee Dam repair is running late after recent rains and unexpected problems required re-engineering, the Manatee County Commission was told Tuesday.
Work slated for completion June 14 is mostly finished. said Mark Simpson, county water division manager.
Workers encountered a buried sheet pile wall underground that slowed repairs, said Simpson. Rains also delayed project completion, he said.
Simpson estimated the first phase, designed to establish seepage control near the spillway, is about 80 percent complete.
"We're pleased at the progress we're making," said Simpson. "It's always tough with unknowns underground."
It is too early to say yet whether the big project designed to reinforce the structural integrity of the East Manatee dam would cost more as a result of the delays, Simpson said.
Simpson told the board the Phase 1A budget was $8.6 million; the whole project is slated to cost about $15 million, officials have said.
Simpson said the original schedule called for "substantial completion" by June 1, but added workers have been doing double shifts to try to make the tight deadlines.
The first phase entails reinforcing the dam by mixing soil and a binder of clay/cement to form a homogenous, impermeable water barrier, according to the Manatee County Utilities Department.
In February, officials an
nounced the dam may have been compromised by erosion, and they slowly brought lake levels down from 40 feet to 38 feet as a precautionary measure.
The lake won't get any higher than the 39 feet it is now, Simpson said Tuesday.
The dam is part of the Manatee County utility system, which provides drinking water for Manatee and some Sarasota County residents through a treatment plant at 7914 Waterline Road.
The county utilities staff and its engineer of record, Carollo Engineers Inc. of Sarasota, along with a consulting firm, AMEC Environmental & Infrastructure Inc. of Tampa, developed stabilization plans, while Hayward Baker Inc. of Tampa is project contractor.
In other action Tuesday, a local lawmaker said he feels sure funds for the new University Parkway-Interstate 75 interchange will appear this year.
State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, told Manatee County commissioners Tuesday he felt "pretty confident" the secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation would find $60 million for the new interchange in his current budget.
Steube said it was his understanding the secretary "Must be artful in the way he finds funding for it," said Steube.
"But I feel pretty confident he'll find the money within their budget confines to fund the interchange."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.