Dam blasting for whitewater rafting project set for Wednesday - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Dam blasting for whitewater rafting project set for Wednesday


It is a project that is predicted to bring 500 jobs to the valley and pump more than $40 million into local economy, and now it is one step closer to the completion of the whitewater course on the Chattahoochee River.

Ready to Raft is expected to be finished by late 2013, but next week, people will see a blast on the river as officials breach the dam.

Hitting the rapids is what so many people around Columbus and Phenix City, like Kirk Roberston, cannot wait to do when the Ready to Raft whitewater rafting project is complete.

"I've been looking forward to that white water project for about eight years now or maybe even longer.  And, now, it is really starting to develop and we're really excited about that," says Robertson.

On March 21, about 50 feet of the Eagle and Phenix Dam on the Phenix City side of the river is set to be breached between 2 pm and 4 pm.

"It is a big day for us because what happens for us in the next few weeks as we get the other phases completed we will really know what the Alabama channel is going to look like," said Richard Bishop with Uptown Columbus.

Bishop says crews are working to finish drilling holes in the dam and cleaning out any debris stuck at the base.  Then, a three step process of breaching the dam will begin.  The first two will be with explosives and the last with a machine.

"Pedestrian traffic and vehicular traffic is going to be strictly," said Bishop.

He explains the 13th Street Bridge as well as surrounding roads on the Columbus side and Phenix City side of the river will be closed for a short time during the breach.  If anyone would like to watch the blast, Bishop says people must gather at Woodruff Park off 10th Street and Bay Avenue in Columbus.

"This is a construction area, and we're still in the process of building this space so we want to make sure that they understand that and they stay out of these spaces too."

Robertson, an avid visitor to the Chattahoochee River, says he will be there to see the next explosive step to whitewater rafting.

"It's just part of the history in Columbus.  The dam went up, and now, they are tearing them down.  It's only going to happen once," said Robertson.

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