Dear Answer Man: What’s up with the low water levels in Silver Lake Thursday? Did the dam break? — Wondering and worried
Dear Wondering: No worry necessary. The low lake level was planned. It’s part of the work that will eventually help add depth to the lake.
According to City Engineer Dillon Dombrovski, the water was lowered to enable work on the Seventh Street Northeast Bridge project. The contractor needed to paint the fenders that protect the piers of the bridge from being crashed into by dredging equipment.
Since those fenders, or angles as they are called, extend below the normal water level, Rochester Public Works asked Rochester Public Utilities was asked to lower the lake level for 24 hours starting Wednesday.
The first coat of paint was applied Wednesday night and a second coat was added the following morning.
By Thursday afternoon, RPU, which regulates the lake level, was beginning to return the lake to the normal level.
In tracking down this answer, one of my minions was told the Seventh Street Bridge preservation project, which started in May, is on schedule to wrap up by the end of September.
The reinforced-concrete deck girder bridge is being preserved, rather than replaced, because it’s considered historically significant for its high artistic value, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Its artistic elements include curved fascia girders and an ornamental railing featuring Moderne details.
The bridge repairs are needed to make way for equipment that will haul sediment out of the lake during dredging. That work is planned for next year and will, obviously, deepen the lake, which was first dug out as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s. The dam was put in in the 1940s.