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New life for aging flood gates

By Carol McIntire

Magnolia flood gatesThe nearly 70-year-old gates on the Magnolia Levee are about to become “like new” again.

As part of a project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (USACE) the gates were removed last week and transported to Canton where they undergo a rehab process by Stark Sandblasting and Painting.

As ironic as it may seem, the two single panel steel gates have hung by hinges on the levee at openings on SR 542 and SR 183 at the edges of Magnolia since the 1950’s, but have never been used for their intended purpose: flood control.

Marcia Thompson, project supervisor/maintenance mechanic for the Bolivar Dam and Magnolia Levee for the USACE said thankfully there hasn’t been a need.

“The gates are located at spillway elevation,” she said Tuesday while watching the removal of the 17,000-pound gate on SR 542. “In 2005, we were close to needing them. The water was within 11 feet of the spillway. The gates were available, if needed, but that was not the case.”

She said the condition of the gates has been under the radar of the USACE and  was included in their five-year plan after an inspection showed years of facing the outdoor weather had taken a toll on them.

“We asked for federal funds for the project and were fortunate to receive about $100,000,” she said.

USACE awarded the general contract for the project to Bentich Construction of Missouri who subcontracted to Stark Sandblasting and Painting. Removing and transporting the gates was a challenge. Stark Sandblasting and Painting contracted the job to Selinsky Hauling.

Thompson said she was a little nervous about the project since two state highways had to be closed for the removal stage. “I wasn’t sure about how that would go,” she said, “but everything has worked out well with ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) coordinating the closings.”

A large crane was brought in to remove the gates and place them flat on the roadway surface. The gates where then secured by the crane and lifted so a semi trailer could be backed under each one. The gates were lowered onto the trailer, secured and transported to Canton.

When the rehabilitation of the gates is complete, they will be transported back to the levee and reinstalled.

The history of the Magnolia Levee and the gates dates back to the period of 1935 to 1937 when a system of 14 dams and reservoirs in the Muskingum River Watershed was built by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) to work as a coordinated network to reduce the effects of flooding in the watershed.

After construction, the dams were turned over the USACE to control flood waters in the area.

The Magnolia Levee is a levee and a pump station designed to protect the village of Magnolia from the watershed of the Bolivar Dam. The road gates on the levee are designed to be closed to hold back flood waters from the Sandy Creek. When used the gates would be closed, locked and the bottoms would be sandbagged.

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