It was supposed to take 5 years or more. It was supposed to cost $150 million. Neither of those things turned out to be the case as the 4.1-mile dam at Buckeye Lake finished nearly two years early and costs $40 million less than expected.
Three years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers said the earthen dam at Buckeye Lake was on the verge of a catastrophic failure, potentially impacting thousands of people if it were to break and flood the area.
State Senator Jay Hottinger recalled a meeting he had with Kasich three years ago.
“He said, ‘there’s only two things that can be done, there’s only two options, you drain the lake and there’s no lake, or we fix it, and one of those isn’t a real option, and so we’re gonna fix the lake,’” said Hottinger.
Kasich made his decision to fix the nearly 200-year-old dam at a cost of $150 million, knowing businesses on the lake would suffer in the meantime.
Fairfield County Commissioner David Levacy owns one of those businesses and was convinced construction was going to take much longer than 5 years.
When it was completed early and under budget he was astonished.
Today, he praised those responsible for making the decision to move forward in 2015.
“There’s sometimes tough decisions that have to be made and this was a tough one,” Levacy said.
While he appreciated the praise, Kasich says, like supporting Medicaid expansion, the decision was easy.
“If you know a dam could break and many, many, people would die and you decide to fix the dam, does that take political courage? I think it takes common sense,” Kasich said.
Completed nearly two years ahead of schedule and for 40 million dollars less than expected, the dam now meets modern day safety standards. Kasich says it will preserve the lake as a destination spot all Ohioans can enjoy.
“This is a celebration for every single person that lives in this region, and I think every single person in our state, and ultimately a decision that people around the country should study,” said Kasich. “Figure out what’s wrong, solve the problem, help the people, it will be nothing but blue skies ahead.”
A 30-foot wide stability berm sits on top of the 4.1-mile dam. Underneath that, a 42-foot deep seepage cut-off wall was built using state of the art soil mixing technology.
As a result, the new dam should be sufficient for the next 100 years or more.