Kiewit Corp., a construction giant with extensive experience in dam projects, was awarded the massive repair job at troubled Oroville Dam on Monday.
The California Department of Water Resources announced that Kiewit, based in Omaha, Neb., beat two competitors for the job with a $275.4 million bid.
Kiewit had the low bid, although its offer was still higher than DWR’s internal estimate that the project would cost $231 million. (DWR said on Saturday that it estimated the project would cost $220 million, but released a corrected estimate Monday.)
Repairs are expected to began in late May or early June. Fixing Oroville Dam’s two spillways will be a daunting project, so complicated that it won’t be completely finished until sometime in 2018. DWR officials have said, however, that they expect the first year’s worth of repairs will leave the structures serviceable for the upcoming rainy season.
Oroville’s main spillway cracked in two Feb. 7 during a heavy rainstorm, prompting dam operators to reduce outflows as they contemplated repairs. Five days later, as the lake filled up and water flowed over the nearby emergency spillway for the first time ever, officials ordered a mass evacuation when they feared the emergency structure would fail because of erosion on the hillside just below the concrete lip. The evacuation was rescinded two days later.
Kiewit’s dam projects include the $900 million auxiliary spillway set to open this fall at Folsom Dam.
The company beat out Barnard Ames JV, an affiliate of Barnard Construction Co. of Bozeman, Mont., which offered to do the job for $277 million; and Oroville Dam Constructors, a joint venture between Teichert Construction of Sacramento and Granite Construction of Watsonville, which bid $344 million.
The contract calls for repairs to both spillways.
State officials have said they expect customers of the State Water Project to pay for the repairs, although they intend to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial help.
Lake Oroville is California’s second largest reservoir and the linchpin of the State Water Project. The SWP’s largest customer is the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million customers.
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