Scenic, historic, unique and important

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

Since 1940, the Grand River Dam Authority’s Pensacola Dam has held back the waters that create Grand Lake while also supporting an important stretch of roadway across the lake’s southern edge. Later this month, GRDA will be closing the dam road temporarily, to complete a maintenance assessment. Such work is done so that the scenic route can benefit travelers for many years to come.

Since 1940, the Grand River Dam Authority’s Pensacola Dam has held back the waters that create Grand Lake while also supporting an important stretch of roadway across the lake’s southern edge. Later this month, GRDA will be closing the dam road temporarily, to complete a maintenance assessment. Such work is done so that the scenic route can benefit travelers for many years to come.

Since 1940, the roadway across Pensacola Dam has provided some of the most spectacular views of the Grand River Valley. Look to the north along that particular mile-long stretch of Oklahoma Highway 28 and you can see the southern reaches of Grand Lake’s 46,500 surface acres of open and inviting water playgrounds; look to the south and see the scenic Grand River Valley, much like it appeared prior to the dam’s construction, stretching off in the distance.

It would be hard to give any kind of educated guess as to the total number of people that have crossed over Pensacola’s historic arches in the 73 years of its existence and it would be even harder to determine what that experience might have been like for them. After all, you can cross a lot of bridges or dams in a lot of places, but the mile long stretch of multiple arches between Langley and Disney is quite unique.

However, along with all the scenic beauty that surrounds it, the roadway across the dam remains an important route for many travelers on a daily basis and for that reason; GRDA gives much attention to inspecting and maintaining it. Every two years, to comply with a federal mandate, the Authority inspects the roadway and bridge deck and uses its “Snooper” truck to get an up-close look at all 51 arches.

The most recent federally-mandated inspection occurred in April 2012. However, GRDA recently announced that the roadway would be closed again, September 23 – 27, for another inspection. Unlike last year’s inspection – which was done to determine if there were any repairs that needed to be made – this latest work will focus on gathering estimates for materials to accomplish the repairs identified in that inspection. In other words, it is sort of like when the roofing contractor comes to your house to determine how much material it is going to take to repair damaged areas that have already been identified.

While the 73-year old dam is in great structural shape, there is almost always roadwork that can be done on a stretch like this, which sees a lot of traffic year round.
And the reason for a complete closure of the dam (8:30AM to 4:30PM) during working hours? In a word: safety. When inspectors can concentrate on the inspection and not have to worry about traffic flows across the dam, the work can be done quicker and safer,

After that, one of the most scenic, historic, unique and important miles of roadway in Oklahoma will once again be open for business.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable electricity touches75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

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