Four aging dams that hold back neighborhood lakes are slated for replacement next year as Raleigh repairs crumbling pieces of infrastructure.
Representatives of the city’s stormwater utilities department met last week with residents of the Laurel Hills neighborhood off Edwards Mill Road to unveil plans for a new dam at Laurel Hills Lake. The project, set to begin next spring, will cost up to $2 million and take a year to 18 months.
“That’s a high-hazard dam,” stormwater utility manager Danny Bowden said. “The system conveying the water from the lake downstream is way undersized. There’s a safety risk there in the event that the dam was to blow out.”
The new dam will handle a larger amount of water, reducing the potential for flooding and erosion downstream during heavy storms. Bowden said the lake has been occasionally overflowing onto Laurel Hills Road above the dam, including an incident during Hurricane Fran in 1996. The road will be closed for the majority of construction with a detour in place.
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Laurel Hills is one of several neighborhoods that will see dam construction starting next spring. Northshore Lake, near Capital Boulevard and New Hope Church Road, is set for a $3 million fix. Construction companies will begin bidding on the work next month.
Northshore has also been at the top of the city’s priority list, Bowden said. “New Hope Church Road is directly below that, so there is direct damage to New Hope Church Road,” he said.
A few blocks west of Northshore, Brockton Drive Lake is also due for a new $3.4 million dam starting next summer. “There is some structure flooding to some of the condominium units adjacent to that lake,” Bowden said. “That’s the key reason we’re doing that, along with erosion.”
Lake restoration and dam work is already underway at Upper Longview Lake off New Bern Avenue, and work on its neighbor, Lower Longview Lake, is scheduled for next year.
It’s a lot of work for the stormwater utility department, which has amassed funding from fees implemented in 2003. The average homeowner’s fee is about $81 annually.
“These for some reason have happened to the design stage at the same time,” Bowden said. “It was not intentional. They’re important enough that we need to get them complete as quickly as possible.”
But one lake likely won’t see any improvements. Brentwood Today Lake, also off New Hope Church Road, doesn’t have a dam that impacts city streets. Its dam burst in 2012, draining the lake, but property owners haven’t come together to fund the needed repairs – and city leaders don’t want to pay for it alone.