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Posted 6/5/2013

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By John H. Campbell

The list of adjectives to describe the ongoing rehabilitation efforts at Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) includes words like “massive,” “complex,” and “innovative.”
Now “award-winning” can be used to describe the project.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Palm Beach Branch has given its Outstanding Project of the Year Award to Jacksonville District, for its work in designing and constructing the improvements to reduce the risk of failure at the dike. The award is presented annually by the organization to recognize the best example of an innovative or outstanding design/construction project in Palm Beach County.

“The Project of the Year Award is a distinguished professional honor,” said Tim Willadsen, HHD project manager.  “All of us that work on this project take a lot of pride in what we do.  It’s gratifying when a group such as the American Society of Civil Engineers publicly recognizes the expertise, professionalism, and hard work we put into our projects.”

In selecting the dike rehabilitation as its project of the year, the Palm Beach ASCE considered the following criteria:

• Contribution to the well-being of people, communities and environment
• Resourcefulness in planning and solution of design problems
• Pioneering in use of materials and methods
• Innovations in construction impact on physical environment, unusual aspects, and aesthetic values

For the last five years, the Corps has undertaken a number of projects to improve the conditions of the dike.  These projects include installation of 21.4 miles of cutoff wall, improvements to the toe ditches in critical areas and the backfilling of an old quarry adjacent to the dike south of Pahokee.  Nine different contracts were awarded to complete the cutoff wall installation and in October 2012, the Corps accepted the final segment of cutoff wall that was installed under these contracts

“Although much progress has been made, resulting in a dike that is safer today than it was five years ago, much more remains to be done,” said Saxby Anderson, resident engineer for construction at HHD. “We are now focusing attention on replacing water control structures surrounding the lake, and we are also studying the other fixes that will be necessary to reduce the risk of failure at the dike.” 

HHD is a 143-mile earthen dam that surrounds Lake Okeechobee in south Florida.  Construction of the dike was authorized by Congress following catastrophic hurricanes in the 1920s that killed thousands of people.  The dike started to experience problems in the 1990s and serious efforts to rehabilitate it finally gained traction in 2007, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on the section between Port Mayaca and Belle Glade.

“The massive size of Herbert Hoover Dike means the work will continue for many years,” said Willadsen.  “However, as we complete the many component projects around the dike, the risks to life and property in the adjacent communities are reduced.”

American Society of Civil Engineers construction corps dam dike Florida Herbert Hoover Dike HHD Jacksonville District Lake Okeechobee Palm Beach County USACE