US Corps of Engineers closes road over Bull Shoals Dam for maintenance

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 4:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2022 at 5:43 PM CDT
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BULL SHOALS, Ark. (KY3) -The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has scheduled a full road closure for State Highway 178 across Bull Shoals Dam to deploy and remove equipment used to perform maintenance on the dam.

“You know it’s an old dam, so we got to do a certain amount of maintenance,” said USACE Chief of Natural Resources Bruce Caldwell. “This one requires a crane, and as you can see, that crane takes up both lanes of the highway. That crane is there to help lift those bulkheads and put them into place.”

The maintenance work will happen on the sluice gates, which are essentially conduits used to release excess water. The work requires bulkheads to be installed to seal off the lake to complete work. The size of that equipment requires both road lanes to be closed.

Closures impact several locals, who say such closures come with the territory.

“It affects me in that I have to make sure I get across the dam earlier than normal,” said Shannon Baker, owner of Enterprise Printing Company in Bull Shoals. “It’s usually a three and a half or four mile drive into work, and if the dam is closed, it goes up to 40 miles.”

Baker says maintenance was more frequent in years past, and as long as adequate notice is given, it is manageable.

“It’s nice that they do it in the middle of the week, of course, because it’s obviously a lot busier here on the weekends with all the tourism around the lake,” said Baker.

In recent years the USACE has focused on the timing of the projects to interfere as little as possible.

“We’re trying to do our projects in small increments so that the dam closures will be short,” said Caldwell. “I know it’s inconvenient for people, but we have to maintain the dam.

The project is a part of a more extensive Bull Shoals Rehabilitation program over the next several years.

“So we’ll have a few as we go along, but we’re going to try and do it at times and for durations that won’t inconvenience people more than we have to,” said Caldwell.

The road will be closed beginning Wednesday at 7 a.m. through Thursday at 5 p.m.

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