LCRA begins a three-year, $76 million Wirtz Dam Improvement Project.

BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A three-year, $76 million project is starting at the Wirtz Dam in Burnet County.

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) will remove and replace 10 locks at the Wirtz Dam to ensure safe and reliable operation.

The dam creating Lake Lyndon B. Johnson was completed in 1951.

There are nine original locks, plus a tenth that was added when the original Thomas S. Ferguson power station was built in 1974.

Each gateway will be removed and replaced with a new custom built gateway that meets today’s technical standards.

Work will be done on one lock at a time to keep the dam operational and able to divert flood waters downstream.

“We could complete this project faster if we replaced several locks at once, but we are in a flash flood lane and this is not a viable option,” said John Hofmann, executive vice president of Water. “Dams along the Highland Lakes play a critical role in flood water management, and we must keep them ready at all times.”

Work on each gateway is expected to take about two months, with the entire project to be completed in 2025.

In addition to replacing the locks, LCRA is upgrading the equipment that raises the locks, called lifts. Two lifts will be replaced and eight refurbished. The LCRA will also replace the existing drawbridge.

The project will expand the area immediately upstream of the Wirtz Dam on Lake LBJ that is off-limits to yachtsmen by about 150 feet to about 300 feet to allow construction crews enough room to remove and replace locks. A buoy line will be installed to fence the construction site.

New locks weighing 120,000 pounds will be assembled south of the dam and then moved to the dam using construction barges and cranes.

Construction crews preparing the storage site will arrive in the area from the end of January. Heavy equipment is expected to start arriving in mid-February. Installation of the first lock is scheduled to begin in April.

Learn more about the project at www.lcra.org/wirtzdamproject.

Since fiscal year 2010, the LCRA has invested more than $134 million in capital dam projects along the Highland, Bastrop, and Fayette lakes, including the dams themselves and associated hydroelectric infrastructure. According to a press release, the LCRA plans to invest more than $107 million in these types of projects over the next five years.

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