Explosions blast new channel for Elwha River
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Demolition crews make steady progress on dismantling the remains of the Elwha Dam on Friday west of Port Angeles.

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Elwha River will change its course this week after two rounds of explosions blasted a new channel at the Elwha Dam.

The channel is on the west side of the 108-foot structure, where several spillways once stood.

Barnard Construction will divert the stream to continue demolition of the east side of the dam, where the river currently flows.

That will occur sometime midweek, said Brian Krimmer, construction manager.

The river will be rerouted back to the east side in January, where it will remain for the rest of the project.

The company in charge of demolishing the river's two dams has been working for about a month, and already, much of the Elwha Dam has been removed.

The only visible structures remaining are the powerhouse, penstocks and surge tank.

But below that, Krohmer said, about 80 feet of concrete remains.

Demolition of the dam is expected to be completed in early 2013, he said.

Glines Canyon Dam, located upstream in Olympic National Park, is scheduled to be fully demolished about a year later, Krohmer said.

“We're right where we want to be,” he said.

“We're just hoping the weather holds out the rest of the month and we can reach our goals.”

No work can occur in the river during fish migration periods, which last for 5 months of the year, preventing the $325 million federal project from being completed sooner.

Fish window

The first fish window will start Nov. 1 and last until the new year.

By then, Krohmer expects 15 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam to be removed.

At 210 feet tall, the dam is the tallest in the nation to be removed.

Demolition of the eastside of the Elwha Dam will continue during the fish window.

No more explosions are planned, but one more may be set to remove additional rock on the west side of the Elwha Dam in January, Krohmer said.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 16. 2011 2:37AM
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