The Tempe City Council granted a $12.4 million contract with a 7-0 vote to SteelFab Inc. on Sept. 19. for the manufacturing of a steel gate dam to install on Tempe Town Lake.
Jeff Kulaga, assistant city manager, said the steel gates made by SteelFab will replace the rubber dams that reside on Tempe Town Lake.
“They will be building the steel gates, the mechanical, the electrical, the hydraulics (and) the control systems,” he said.
This contract puts the city of Tempe on track to complete the installation of the new dam by December 2015. The rent for the rubber bladders will rise to $300,000 per month in January 2016, Kulaga said.
As of now, he said the rent is $1 per month.
Tempe City Councilwoman Robin Arredondo-Savage said this contract is an important move in the timeline to complete the dam.
“It’s a step forward to be able to get the project started and hopefully get it completed on time, if not earlier,” she said.
The dam first opened in 1999 with four rubber bladders, manufactured by Bridgestone with a 10-year warranty, Kulaga said. Bridgestone warned the city that the bladders would need to be replaced before the 10 years passed.
Kulaga said Bridgestone and the council reached an agreement in which they would replace the dams with no expense to Tempe and rent the new bladders to the city for $1 a month for five years.
Before the new bladders could be installed, Kulaga said, one of the existing ones broke, sending nearly a billion gallons of water spilling from the lake.
Arredondo-Savage said although the situation was unfortunate, it was handled well by the city.
The steel gate dam will work much better in the desert climate and be able to handle the flood waters, Kulaga said.
“We weren’t looking for anything innovative here,” he said. “We wanted some good old-fashioned tried and true technology.”
The council wanted a dam with reliability, durability and life expectancy, Kulaga said.
Stewart Vaghti, a registered civil engineer at Gannett Fleming, said the infrastructure firm was granted a contract in March 2012 to complete the final design for the dam replacement project. This includes creating a performance specification for the steel gates.
The company was given a set of criteria from the city of Tempe to make the design.
Vaghti said these standards laid out requirements such as what the lake elevation needs to be at and the how the gates should be operated.
“SteelFab then designs the gates to meet that performance specification,” he said.
The council considered five contracts before choosing SteelFab as the manufacturer. Kulaga said they chose this company because of its work on a similar dam in Oklahoma City.
Kulaga said the dam will be funded in part with $4 million from the capital improvement program. Voter-approved bonds will fund the rest.
Any land the city leases or sells will also fund the dam, but Kulaga said this has yet to occur.
The entire project has a price tag of $40.7 million and the next step will be forming a contract with a construction firm to excavate the river bottom, pour a giant foundation and install the steel gates, Kulaga said.
Tempe Councilman Kolby Granville said the council also selected the company because it scored the highest on an evaluation which measured cost, design offered, ability to meet schedule, evaluation of firms and other miscellaneous criteria.
“(The dam) means that we continue to have the second-largest tourist attraction in the state of Arizona,” he said.
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