Adverse weather pushes dam work completion back

Posted: January 23, 2013

The Winchester Star

CROSS JUNCTION — Due to recent adverse weather conditions — including below-freezing temperatures — the estimated completion date for the Lake Holiday Dam project has been pushed back from late February to March or April.

Joe Wilder, deputy director of the Frederick County Public Works Department, said following a Lake Holiday Sanitary District Dam Working Committee meeting Tuesday that the weather has slowed the contractor’s efforts to place backfill between the new dam’s concrete walls and remaining shale from the previous dam.

“They had to put a special backfill in between [the new] wall and the existing area,” Wilder said. “It’s a special clay, it had to be special soil. This has taken a lot longer than [the contractor] thought it would.”

The project’s general contractor is C. William Hetzer Inc., which is based in Hagerstown, Md.

About 2,000 cubic yards of backfill are required for the project, according to Wilder.

“Now that we’re in the wintertime, it really hurts trying to do earthwork,” he said.

The work is more involved than simply placing the backfill since the material must be placed down in layers and each layer must be compacted before the next layer is placed, Wilder said.

Barbara Magill, president of the Lake Holiday Homeowners Association and a resident of the community for four years, said after the meeting that she and other residents were disappointed to learn of the delay for completion.

“There’s nothing we can do about it but weather the storm and eventually we’ll have a wonderful dam and a permanent spillway,” Magill said. “We’re disappointed, but some things can’t be controlled. Including the weather.”

Wilder said the contract with C. William Hetzer Inc. has stipulations that could reduce the amount owed to the contractor if the project’s completion is significantly delayed.

However, he added that the county is not looking at using those stipulations at this time.

A new dam became a necessity when inspectors with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Dam Safety Division determined several years ago that the aging spillway could collapse during a major rain.

The project is being financed by a $9.25 million, 20-year loan.

Attending the meeting in the Frederick County Administration Building were Chair Kris Tierney and members Barbara Magill and Pat Shields, and county staff Ed Strawsnyder, Joe Wilder and Mike Stewart.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at