Work continues around the clock at RRHP

RRHP construction continues despite water levels

Jul 02

Recent rain storms throughout central and southern Iowa have caused the Red Rock reservoir to rise 12 feet over a six-day period in late June to an elevation on July 1 of about 770 feet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has not increased the release of water through the Red Rock Dam during this period, causing the reservoir level to rise to its current level. The 770-foot water level represents 60 percent of Red Rock Lake’s flood storage capacity. 

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Short-term road closures planned for early hours Friday

Short-term road closures planned for early hours Friday

Jun 25

Short-term road closures planned for early hours Friday


A rolling roadblock will occur for up to two hours between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m., Friday, June 26, to accommodate the movement of a large re-bar cage that will be used in the construction of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project.

Road closures will begin at the North Tailwater construction area and move down 216th Place to T-17, south on T-17 to G-46, west on G-46 to T-15 and north on T-15 to the upstream construction area of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project. As the re-bar cage movement is completed at each section of road, that section will be reopened.

In addition, T-15 will be restricted to one lane throughout the day and a pilot car and flaggers will be directing traffic until the concrete placement is completed.

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For more information, contact Vern Cochran at Missouri River Energy Services, phone: 605-321-9569.

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Local businesses seeing increased activity related to RRHP construction

Jun 19

The Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) undeniably is having an impact on Pella, Iowa, and the surrounding area. Construction of the massive project has brought with it temporary closures of some facilities, but it also has brought the additions of some new recreational and picnic areas.

In addition to an influx of workers at RRHP, it also has been good for some area businesses. Take Skyline Ready Mix. Skyline’s Pella operation is providing the concrete for the project. That means a lot of concrete. As of mid-May, the company had poured more than 19,000 yards including some test pours. “We have about 100,000 yards to go,” said Skyline’s Operations Manager Arlan “Ott” Van Dusseldorp.

“We did about 100 yards of test pours to get dialed in on the right workable mix. One pour takes eight to 12 hours. That’s 680-780 yards at 10 yards on a truck and we have three trucks pouring at once,” Van Dusseldorp said.

Skyline is owned by Bruening Rock Products, Inc., and when it took on the job, Arvin Lanser, who had more than 20 years of experience working in the concrete industry, was serving as operations manager. Lanser died suddenly March 27 and Van Dusseldorp was thrown into the job. “Arvin was hesitant about even bidding because of the challenges of the concrete temperature specs,” Van Dusseldorp said. He credits Lanser for leading him in the right direction. “There are some decisions I make during a job that I can’t believe I’m even making. But it was because Arvin was training me to do this job even though I wasn’t aware of it at the time.”

Van Dusseldorp also credits Ames Construction – the general contractor for RRHP – with seeing to it that things go as smoothly as possible. “Ames has been really fantastic. They are building an ice plant to cool the concrete down in the summer,” he said. “Between our operation and the ice plant, we’ll be the second largest electricity consumer in Pella. We also had a heater installed to keep concrete warm enough in the winter.”

Bruening also has allowed Skyline to get the personnel and equipment it needs. “We never had a truck mechanic before, but we have one now and we’re having fewer breakdowns.”

Skyline also has rented up to six trucks from other companies at times. The company has 14 trucks of its own bringing the total available to 20 when needed.  “I want to personally thank all of the employees of Skyline for doing such a great job,” Van Dusseldorp said.

Challenges in the Recipe

Ames has specific codes or recipes for different mixes of concrete for the project. Each code has different ratios of cement, rock, and water. Skyline is currently working with a “tremie” concrete mix, which is designed to be used under water and to tie various elements together. Tremie mix must stay fluid and workable for eight hours and be of the right consistency to bind together. It has a set time of 20 to 40 hours. Skyline’s tremie mix is currently setting up in 26 hours. To control the set time, Skyline used hot water for the winter pours and is using cold water now that the weather has gotten warmer.

At the end of August, when Skyline begins to pour the foundations for the powerhouse and intake structure, the recipe will change to a lightweight concrete mix made with man-made rock. This mix has to stay wet during the hot weather and can’t be allowed to dry too quickly. 

Van Dusseldorp said that Skyline is a very customer-oriented business and its customer relationships are very important. Because of its commitment to RRPH, Skyline has been unable to bid on some local projects. The company tries to maintain a ratio of three trucks dedicated to RRHP and one truck for other local projects. “We hope our local contractors will be understanding and that they will come back when this project is finished,” Van Dusseldorp said.

Business for auto dealer

Craig Ford has been in the car business for 15 years and in Pella for about seven years. Ford owns Pella Motors, a local company that has seen benefits from the development of RRHP.

Prior to coming to Pella and purchasing the dealership, Ford worked in the automobile business in Ankeny, Iowa. Before that he was in college and then served in the U.S. Army.

Pella Motors sells Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, Jeep, and Ram vehicles, but, despite the owner’s name, it doesn’t sell Fords.

As it was beginning work on RRHP, Ames needed about 15 work trucks and issued its specifications and called for bids. Pella Motors won the bid. Ford said that one challenge was to try to get the right tool boxes for each truck. Because of delays caused by supplier problems with the order, Pella Motors had to rush to install the tool boxes in a three-hour period to meet Ames’ timeframe. 

Pella Motors also provides maintenance services for all of Ames’ trucks and is on hand to help if any breakdowns should occur. “We didn’t really have to gear up to prepare for this project – we sell a lot of vehicles,” Ford said. “I anticipate that Ames will need additional trucks in the future and I hope that we get the chance to provide them.”

Ford has developed a good relationship with many of the Ames employees and a personal relationship with some. They share an interest in the Knoxville races and in fast cars.

One Ames employee personally purchased a Dodge Challenger Hellcat 707 HP muscle car from Pella Motors. That model has a very limited production and is hard to come by, but Ford was able to get one and he says he enjoyed working on the deal.

“Ames Construction and its employees have been great ambassadors for the community of Pella.  They bought houses, bought vehicles, and bought materials locally whenever they could.  They are truly trying to be part of the community,” Ford said. 

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Upstream construction moves to higher elevation

Upstream construction moves to higher elevation

Jun 19

Crews at the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) have completed work on one portion of a 240-foot diaphragm wall. The diaphragm wall is designed to hold back the existing Red Rock earthen dam and provide a channel for water to enter an intake structure that will send water to the hydroelectric turbine/generator. That work was conducted from a work platform at the 760-foot elevation on the upstream side of the Red Rock Dam. Crews are now working from a temporary platform that they constructed at the 781-foot elevation and will install five additional diaphragm wall concrete piers.

Reservoir water levels have been an ongoing concern for the project while work was under way at the 760-foot work platform. Water levels, as monitored daily by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have fluctuated with recent rainfall in the Des Moines River watershed area and hit a high level of 751.75-feet on June 16. The forecast is for the water level to reach 759-feet by June 21 or 22. Now that crews are working from the 781-foot platform, work can continue until the water level approaches that elevation.

On the downstream side of the dam, rip-rap is being placed on the banks of the closure dike to prevent erosion. The closure dike and a cofferdam will help keep water out of the site during the excavation and construction of the powerhouse. The cofferdam protects the site against high velocity water coming out of the tailrace. The closure dike protects against the smaller wave action in the cove just past the cofferdam. Dewatering efforts and pumping will continue throughout the duration of the construction as needed to keep this area dry. Excavation and reinforcement work is continuing in the area where the powerhouse will be located.

Missouri River Energy Services, which is constructing RRHP and will operate the plant once it is completed, reminds the public that the construction areas will remain closed for the duration of the hydro project. Closed areas include the North Tailwater Recreation Area, the North Overlook Picnic Area, and the Volksweg Bike Trail from Howell Station Campground to the North Overlook Picnic Area.

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Short-term road closures planned for early hours Tuesday, May 12

Short-term road closures planned for early hours Tuesday, May 12

May 11

A rolling roadblock will occur for up to two hours between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 12, to accommodate the movement of a large re-bar cage that will be used in the construction of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project.

Road closures will begin at the North Tailwater construction area and move down 216th Place to T-17, south on T-17 to G-46, west on G-46 to T-15 and north on T-15 to the upstream construction area of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project. As the re-bar cage movement is completed at each section of road, that section will be reopened.

In addition, T-15 will be restricted to one lane throughout the day and a pilot car and flaggers will be directing traffic until the concrete placement is completed.

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For more information, contact Vern Cochran at Missouri River Energy Services, phone: 605-321-9569.

Read More