Skip to main content

Lynchburg, VA's College Lake Dam Removal Project Approaches Significant Milestone

 

It's not often that you hear about the planned removal of a dam in an urban area, but that's exactly the kind of project that the independent city of Lynchburg, VA has embarked on. The city and the University of Lynchburg are nearing the midway point of a lengthy project intended to reimagine the Blackwater Creek watershed in the area of the nearby University, while also replacing a structurally-problematic earthen dam and creating a newer, safer alignment for the local highway that currently crosses it.

The existing College Lake Dam was built in 1934 and impounds Blackwater Creek to form College Lake, which has a surface area of about 17 acres along the western periphery of the University campus. The dam additionally serves as the embankment that carries Lakeside Drive (US Route 221) across College Lake and the Blackwater Creek. The dam itself was built of compacted clay and stands 35 ft tall and is about 300 ft long. At the east end of the dam is a spillway for Blackwater Creek that is bridged by a single-span concrete & stone masonry arch. Severe flooding of College Lake due to record rainfall in August 2018 overtopped the dam and nearly caused its collapse; this incident prompted local and state officials to consider the dam’s removal as part of a larger restoration of Blackwater Creek and updating of the Lakeside Drive corridor.


Above: The College Lake Dam is an earthen embankment that impounds Blackwater Creek near the University of Lynchburg to form College Lake
Below: The new four-way roundabout intersection at the main entrance to the University nears substantial completion

With the City and University in agreement that the safety and ecology of the College Lake area needed to be addressed, the first step in the construction process (which began in 2021 and is not expected to wrap up until 2024) is the construction of a four-lane bypass bridge to carry Lakeside Drive across Blackwater Creek a short distance downstream (north) of the dam site. As part of the bridge project, a new four-way roundabout intersection is being constructed at the east end of the new bridge in order to better and more efficiently serve access to the University of Lynchburg’s main entrance. Upon completion of the bridge in Summer 2022, work will begin on the removal of the College Lake Dam and the restoration of the surrounding ecosystem and wetlands to what local officials hope will be pre-dam conditions. Local officials are optimistic that this urban wetland restoration effort (which has a price tag of about $18 million) will not only provide ecological uplift and water quality benefits for the Blackwater Creek watershed, but will additionally serve as a model for future urban wildlife restoration efforts to be considered by municipalities nationwide.

The following pictures (from June 2022) of the old alignment of Lakeside Drive (US Route 221) were taken by the author of this post. Click on each photo to see a larger version.


The following ground-level pictures (from June 2022) of the new alignment of Lakeside Drive (US Route 221) were taken by the author of this post. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

The following aerial pictures of the construction site (from June 2022) were taken by the author of this post using a DJI quadcopter drone. Always use proper judgment and situational awareness when flying in areas such as this. Click on each photo to see a larger version.



How to Get There:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yes, the color of your nearby fire hydrant matters...

...and here's why. You will find White, Red, Yellow and Violet colored fire hydrants pretty much everywhere.  But there's a reason for this - and it's because of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  This association has issued guidelines for color coding standards for fire hydrants.  These color codes from the body of the hydrant, top of the hydrant, and in some municipalities the outlet caps are designed to allow fire fighters to know what type of system, water flow rate (Gallons Per Minute or GPM), and level of water pressure.  This guideline is known as NFPA 291 and is intended to be used universally throughout the United States. The NFPA guidelines are specific to the body and the top cap of the hydrant.  If a hydrant is WHITE or YELLOW - it means that it is connected to a public/municipal water system.  If a hydrant is RED - the hydrant is connected to a private system, typically a well.  These are most common in rural or unincorporated areas

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page Ridge Route corridor introdution The Ridge Route as originally envisioned was a segment of highway which was completed in 1915 between the northern Los Angeles city limit

Establishing the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates

The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 brought the Interstate Highway System into existence which would largely be constructed by Federal Highway Administration fund matching.  The Interstate Highway System was deliberately numbered to run opposite the established conventions of the US Route System.  While the Interstate Highway numbering conventions are now well established there was a period during the late 1950s where they were still being finalized.  This blog examines the history of the establishing of the chargeable Interstate Highway route numbers in California.  The above blog cover depicts the Interstate Highway route numbers requested by the Division of Highways in the Los Angeles area during November 1957.  The establishment of the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates The Interstate Highway System was not created in a vacuum by way of the passage of the 1956 Federal Highway Aid Act.  The beginning of the Interstate Highway System can be found in the