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VIDEO: Demolition of York, Pa.'s Bascule Gate Dam Under Way as Part of Larger Greenway Project

Wed December 06, 2023 - Northeast Edition #26
WPMT-TV & York County Economic Alliance

Demolition of the Bascule Gate Dam on Codorus Creek in York, Pa., began Dec. 5 as part of an effort to reduce flooding, improve water quality, promote public safety and prepare for construction of the city's Codorus Greenway project.

The effort is being made through a partnership between the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA) and the city of York, WPMT-TV in Harrisburg reported.

The Bascule Gate Dam is located just downstream from the Philadelphia Street bridge over Codorus Creek. It was originally installed in 1983 to raise the upstream water level to create a slack pool for water recreation, such as canoeing and kayaking. The dam also included a gate that could be lowered during flood periods.

But the dam's gate has been inoperable since 2016 when it became stuck in a raised position that causes it to gather debris, aggravate flooding and pose a drowning risk, according to the YCEA.

In the years since, the dam's operation mechanism has only continued to deteriorate and allow water to infiltrate the structure's control housing.

As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) notified York in March 2018 that the Bascule Gate Dam was noncompliant with flood control requirements. The city was then mandated to remove the dam.

About the time that the Bascule Gate Dam begun malfunctioning, planning for the Codorus Greenway was initiated and removing the dam was recommended.

BrightFields Inc., a Wilmington, Del.-based environmental remediation firm, will complete the work with the engineering firm of Buchart Horn in York providing construction management and inspection services.

The total project cost is anticipated to be $550,000 and is being covered by city of York Rescue Plan Act funds and grants from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

The demolition project is anticipated to be completed no later than April 30, 2024, WPMT-TV noted.

The first phase of work will include razing a building housing the dam gate mechanism and the construction of a bypass channel to lower the water level behind the dam. Following that work, the second phase will include the demolition of the dam and its foundation, along with the restoration of the site.

When the Bascule Gate Dam is breached, it will expose areas of the creek bed and banks previously under water, YCEA noted. Over time, the creek will establish a more natural flow within the levee walls and the banks will become covered in vegetation.

The dam's removal is only the first phase of a much larger project to improve access to Codorus Creek, which will include the installation of permanent riparian buffers, or vegetation, along the water's edge.

YCEA plans to work with the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper to conduct litter clean-ups of the area sometime next spring.

Codorus Creek a Key Waterway in York

For more than a century, people in York have looked at Codorus Creek as a body of water abounding with opportunity.

The YCEA's Codorus Creek Beautification Initiative moves these prior design and planning efforts forward by hydraulically modeling and re-envisioning the creek channel in the city of York and Spring Garden Township.

The initiative has a $26 million first phase that will stretch from Grantley Avenue to Foundry Plaza in York, with a trail connection running along the west bank of the levee system.

The initial phase of work is currently in the permitting process with USACE and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, according to YCEA. The latter agency said that it anticipates permit approval in the third quarter of next year, which would allow the Codorus Creek Beautification effort to start construction toward the end of 2024.

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