A project to restore and repair a 100-year-old dam near Duluth received a 2021 Grand Award in Engineering Excellence by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota. The award was presented at ACEC/MN’s virtual awards gala on February 26.
Island Lake Dam's unique challenges
Minnesota Power hired Barr to develop and implement a solution to replace the Island Lake Dam’s aging sluice gates, which reduced power generation and posed operational, environmental, and safety risks. The dam’s unusual features, including an arched structure and gates located 50 feet under the water’s surface, presented unique challenges to the team charged with safely accessing and repairing the gates.
Barr provided stability analyses, a comprehensive options study, engineering design, and detailed construction sequencing. Collaboration with Minnesota Power and construction contractor J.F. Brennan Company, Inc. led to innovative engineering methods that helped manage costs and scope. The award-winning outcome: successful replacement of the sluice gates and improved operability, resulting in enhanced support for downstream hydro facilities plus sustained recreational and environmental benefits.
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About the author
Tor Hansen is a vice president and senior civil engineer with over 25 years of experience working primarily on structural design, inspection, and rehabilitation projects. His experience includes designing reinforced concrete, steel, timber, and precast concrete structures such as dams, buildings, equipment supports and foundations, waterfront structures, and equipment bridges.