The question on many farmers minds is when will the Ft. Laramie Canal be repaired? It’s a question Rick Preston, district manager of Gering-Ft. Laramie District gets at least ten times a day.
“It’s still a question no one, yet knows the answer to,” he said.
The crews with SAK construction are ready to move onto the second collapse in the tunnel, but they are waiting for large metal boxes to shore up the sinkhole.
“If things go well and we can get the shoring boxes in place and settled by Saturday or Sunday. The contractor told me it would probably be 48 to 72 hours and we should know just about when we can put water in,” Preston said.
The tunnel collapse created a sinkhole and Goshen Irrigation and Gering-Ft. Laramie Irrigation districts have been removing dirt from the hill around the sinkhole.
Enough of the dirt above the tunnel has been removed, and the shoring boxes are ready to be placed around the sinkhole.
“As of 11 a.m. (Aug. 19) the first shoring box started going in,” Preston said. “By Tuesday (Aug. 20) night, we’re hoping to have the first three boxes set.”
The situation is complicated since the boxes are heavy at about 15 tons each. They are too heavy for the excavation equipment. A crane has been ordered to move the boxes. In the meantime, the boxes are being maneuvered into place by the excavation equipment.
The boxes will be placed end to end, and the contractors will go in and weld securing straps on the inside of the boxes. Then the crews will be able to start excavating the dirt from the second collapse.
“While we’re excavating the dirt out of them, gravity will pull them down to where we want them,” he said. “The contractors will then go back in the tunnel and become more aggressive in the second area (collapse), get it cleaned up, shored up and possibly get some water.”
The Bureau of Reclamation has been working with the irrigation districts to ensure money is available for the temporary fix of the tunnel. The Bureau has committed $4 million for the temporary fix with a 50-year payback.
The irrigation districts will meet with the Bureau on Tuesday, Aug. 20, to discuss funding for a permanent fix.
Everyone from individuals to businesses and government agencies has been helping, Preston said. We’re lucky to live in such caring communities.