Tempe Town Lake

Construction is officially underway on a new dam at Tempe Town Lake.

Tempe city officials and construction managers started the 40.8 million dollar project just after 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.

During the project, construction crews will remove the old dam and replace it with a new one.

The new dam will be built 100 feet downstream and will be made of steel gates instead of rubber bladders.

Back in 2010, the rubber bladder system ruptured, sending nearly 1 billion gallons of water racing downstream.

Officials said the new gated system will work much like a door opening and closing.

"These are going to be the largest hydraulic steel gates in the world. We will have 7 of them and each one is going to be more 100 feet long and 230,000 pounds," said project manager Aaron Gordon.

Since the new dam is going to be built 100 feet west of the old one construction engineers said water will now flow on both sides of the pedestrian bridge near the Tempe Center for the Arts.

A change some people who use the bridge or for and others are against.

"It's going to be a lot better than looking at dirt on the other side," said Brenda Ireton.

"I don't think it will look as nice. I don't think moving the dam down that far is going to be as pleasing as where it is now," said Jennifer Rodriguez.

Keeping the lake beautiful is a major priority for Tempe. City officials said the lake attracts more than 2.7 million people every year and 1.5 billion dollars in economic impact.

Construction officials said walking detours will be in place during different stages of construction. The entire project is scheduled to last 18 months and be finished in fall of 2015.

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