The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) proposes to replace the existing Reelfoot Spillway which controls the water levels of Reelfoot Lake. The current spillway, constructed in 1931, is located on State Route 21 (SR 21) and also serves as a highway bridge. The proposed spillway would be located approximately 1,000 feet to the west of the current spillway. This proposed project does not alter the current water management plan for Reelfoot Lake, as administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Project Location and Background
Reelfoot Lake, located between Lake and Obion counties in western Tennessee, is a natural lake that encompasses approximately 15,000 acres of shallow open water and vegetated wetland habitat. Reelfoot Lake has been designated a Class I Scenic-Recreational Area and Wildlife Management Area administered by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). It has also been designated an Outstanding National Resource Water by the Tennessee Water Quality Control Board.
The existing spillway has outlived its design life, is deteriorating, and is no longer adequate to manage the water level of Reelfoot Lake. The USFWS administers operation of the water levels at the current spillway at Reelfoot Lake, under the terms of a lease agreement with the State of Tennessee, and under an Interim Water Management Plan. The West Tennessee River Basin Authority is responsible for maintaining and coordinating drainage and flood control on the bayou.
In 1999 the Memphis District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) prepared the Reelfoot Lake Tennessee and Kentucky Final Feasibility Report and Final Environmental Impact Statement, September 1999 (EIS) in four volumes. The EIS consisted of a detailed analysis of various plans for addressing problems in the Reelfoot Lake area, including replacement of the spillway.
On February 17, 2006, TDOT submitted a permit application to both the USACE and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) proposing to construct a new spillway, a new spillway channel, and associated bridge (SR 21) over the channel at Reelfoot Lake to replace the existing spillway.
An amended permit application was submitted to both agencies on March 30, 2006. A joint public meeting/hearing regarding these permit applications was held by the USACE and TDEC on July 6, 2006 at the Reelfoot Lake Visitor’s Center. Subsequent to the joint public meeting/hearing, TDEC also held two public hearings regarding a required navigation permit for the project. In addition to the permit public meeting/hearing referenced above, TDOT held two public meetings regarding this project, and throughout the spillway replacement and emergency repair projects, TDOT has been actively engaged with the USACE, TDEC, TWRA and USFWS.
The existing spillway is considered structurally deficient and the results of the most recent inspection indicate that the current structure has experienced advanced section loss, deterioration, spalling and scour.
The existing spillway is considered structurally deficient and the results of the most recent inspection indicate that the current structure has experienced advanced section loss, deterioration, spalling and scour. As a result of this most recent inspection, along with public concern about the safety and stability of the present spillway and road embankment, TDOT initiated an emergency repair project to stabilize the existing spillway and road embankment. On May 2, 2007, a contract was awarded to Dement Construction for emergency repairs at the spillway. The contractor drove 64 foot-long steel sheets along the lake side of the spillway to stop water from leaking through the structure. The emergency repair project was completed on September 28, 2007.
Current Construction Project
On May 21, 2008, TDOT received the Notice of Determination, 401 Water Quality Certification and Navigable Waters Permit from TDEC. On August 20, 2008, the USACE issued the Individual Section 404 Permit for the project. On May 7, 2009, TDOT completed the right-of-way acquisition process for the project and obtained a Memorandum of Understanding with TWRA for the construction of the required mitigation site. On June 18, 2009, the Tennessee Department of Transportation accepted Dement Construction Company’s bid of $19,904,421.64 for the construction of the Reelfoot Spillway and Bridge Project. The project is currently on schedule to completed on or before the contract completion date of September 30, 2012.