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Taking a Rare, Close-Up Look at Oroville Dam Construction Progress

We may be in the middle of a serious heatwave right now, but engineers with the Department of Water Resources only have winter on their minds. They're racing to complete construction on phase two of the new Oroville Dam Spillway by November 1st.

Posted: Jul. 25, 2018 5:01 PM

OROVILLE, Calif. -- We may be in the middle of a serious heatwave right now, but engineers with the Department of Water Resources only have winter on their minds. They're racing to complete construction on phase two of the new Oroville Dam Spillway by November 1st.

More than one year ago, the spillway broke, forcing more than 190,000 residents to leave their homes. Action News Now followed up with the DWR more than one year later to see how the rebuilding process is going.

Construction on phase one of the new spillway began in May 2017.

Fast forward to 2018 at the top of the new spillway, engineers worked on the upper chute, part of phase two of construction.

"Now we're about 80% complete with all of the leveling concrete which covers up the foundation and prepares for the structural concrete," said Jeff Petersen, Executive Project Director & Senior VP, Kiewit.

On Wednesday, leveling concrete was poured in. Slab anchors and an underdrain system were installed.

"Which is preparing for next week, we will start the structural concrete walls and slabs," said Petersen.

There are about 800 employees involved in the project, including in the office and out in the field.

"You can hear the drills in the background, they're installing the anchors. There's about 14 anchors in every slab," said Petersen.

There are several challenges involved in construction such as this.

"We spend a lot of time with safety and providing shade, providing water, providing fruit and break time to keep everybody safe in the heat," said Petersen.

Many remember the shocking image of the gaping hole in the spillway in 2017.

"This time around, the design has changed from the original design, where the walls are a little bit thicker. There's more thickness to the slabs," said Tony Meyers, Project Manager for 2018 Emergency Recovery.

There is also a double mat of reinforcement, one on the top and one on the bottom.

There's a change in the design of the drainage system with larger pipes versus the herringbone design that was in there originally.

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