Construction to relocate a portion of the Salem Lake trail will begin Sept. 1 in preparation for replacing the Salem Lake dam this fall.
Relocating the trail will allow it to remain open while a new dam is constructed where the trail currently crosses Salem Creek. Construction of the trail is scheduled to be completed Nov. 1, after which construction of the new dam will begin.
While the new dam is under construction, Salem Lake will be partially drained and will be closed to fishing and boating. The bait shop at Salem Lake will remain open to serve trail users.
The dam, originally built in 1919 to provide fresh water for Winston-Salem, will be replaced by a new dam about 100 feet downstream of the current dam. Construction is expected to take a year, said Jack Fitzgerald, an engineer with the City/County Utilities Division.
“Due to its age and the fact that we have the Thomas (water) plant down for reconstruction, it’s a good time to do this project,” Fitzgerald said. In all, the project is expected to cost $10 million.
In 2007 the Utilities Division commissioned a study of the dam which found that the dam spillway does not meet current requirements and that the concrete in the spillway is aged to the point that repairs would cost more than replacing the dam.
Lowering the level of the lake will ensure that the lake has enough capacity to absorb a 10-year storm without overflowing the construction site, Fitzgerald said. During construction the lake will be reduced to about 125 acres. The lake covers 285 acres when it is full.
A map showing the site of the new dam, the relocation of the Salem Lake trail and the impact on the lake is below.
Area map and information about the Salem Lake Dam construction [pdf]