SHELBY – The N.C. Department of Transportation is working with the Tennessee Valley Authority to draw down the levels of the Chatuge Reservoir in Clay County during the final stages of a bridge replacement project.
In early September, the TVA will begin to draw down reservoir levels to between 1,911 and 1,913 feet above sea level -- roughly 4-5 feet below normal winter levels -- to allow for construction crews to begin demolition of the existing bridge on N.C. 175 over the reservoir. The reservoir should reach its lowest level by end of November.
Due to the lower reservoir levels, boaters and other users are urged to exercise extra caution due to the expected increase in both above-and below-water obstructions. The Hiwassee River below Chatuge Dam will be unaffected by the lower reservoir level.
Bridge demolition is expected to begin in mid-October, allowing enough time for Chatuge Reservoir water levels to recede. Construction on a new bridge over the reservoir started in August 2013. Traffic will be allowed on the new bridge by mid-October.
The bridge over the Chatuge Reservoir was built in 1942 and is considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. This means that although the bridge is safe, it doesn’t meet current or future traffic demands and requires costly maintenance to remain functional. Carolina Bridge Company from Orangeburg, S.C., is the contractor for the project.
TVA will return the reservoir to its normal winter levels by mid-January 2015, or as soon as crews complete their work on the piers, and will begin refilling to summer levels in March 2015. The refill rate will depend on available rainfall runoff, but the reservoir is expected to return its normal summer pool level in 2015.
Chatuge Reservoir, located on the Hiwassee River, is 13 miles long and extends southeast from the dam into north Georgia. The reservoir is named after a nearby Cherokee settlement.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.
For additional information about TVA and the process of drawing down Chatuge Reservoir water levels, contact Jim Hopson, TVA public relations manager, at the Knoxville office at 865-632-8860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.