Contractor preparing area for Pipestem Dam project

The project consists of building a concrete terminal structure.

pipestem dam construction equipment 021623.jpg
Large earth moving equipment is lined up at the construction site where work will be done at Pipestem Dam north of Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN – The primary contractor has set up its staging area for the Pipestem Dam safety modification project, and work this year includes general excavation of the area and preparing for construction of the concrete terminal structure, according to Carlie Hively, civil works project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District.

“They’ve been slowly ramping up and getting prepared for spring,” she said.

The Corps of Engineers gave Barnard Construction Co. a notice to proceed with construction on the $131.5 million project on Oct. 6.

Barnard Construction has set up its work trailers and done some clearing and removing of vegetation of the staging area, Hively said. She said a quality assurance and control lab has also been constructed on the upstream left abutment of Pipestem Dam near an existing maintenance building.

The Pipestem Dam safety modification project consists of building a concrete terminal structure on the downstream end of Pipestem Creek and filling in the eroded areas with concrete. The downstream end of Pipestem Creek is where erosion could happen because of a drop-off.


A terminal structure is located at the downstream end of the outlet works — which controls the release of water from a reservoir — to dissipate the energy of rapidly flowing water and protect the riverbed from erosion, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website.

The emergency spillway is located west of the paved road across the top of Pipestem Dam. Immediately south of the spillway is a broad relatively level area that had previously been used as a shooting range. From that area, there is a steeper slope with nearly a 90-foot vertical drop to Pipestem Creek below. The area where the steeper drop is located is at risk of eroding away.

Once the project is complete, the improvements will help prevent erosion in the event of a large storm. The eroded areas will be filled in and a terminal structure will be built over the drop-off at the end of the spillway.

“I think it’s exciting to be able to provide some added protection for the community in terms of spillway erosion,” Hively said.

The project is planned to be completed at the end of 2025, Hively said. If the elevation rises at Pipestem Reservoir, she said there should be no effect on the project unless the spillway flows.

Since Pipestem Dam was built, the water has never been high enough to flow over the spillway crest.

Hively said Barnard Construction is working with Stutsman County to mitigate traffic impacts such as dust and potential damage to the road. She said the plan is to apply dust palliatives to the roads to help reduce the dust that will be created.

“They will be ensuring that any roads used are maintained,” she said.


She said she was unsure how many total workers will be employed for the project. She said the corps will have around 20 to 30 employees on site who will manage and oversee quality assurance of the work.

Hively said the additional workers in the Jamestown area will be good for local businesses and the community.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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