Rehabilitation on previously hazardous Summit County dam near Breckenridge expected to wrap this fall

The Goose Pasture Tarn Dam began construction in 2021. Construction is nearly wrapped and the town plans to have the dam back in November.
Town of Breckenridge/Courtesy photo

Construction for the Goose Pasture Tarn dam rehabilitation project is nearly wrapped up, and Breckenridge officials said it’s still on track to be completed in November.

The dam holds back the Blue River, which flows through the center of Breckenridge, and it required rehabilitation due to hazardous conditions identified by officials. 

The rehabilitation replaced two existing spillways with a single, larger spillway. This is intended to improve the safety and long-term operation of the dam. Additionally, a nearly 3-foot dam crest for flood protection was put in place alongside a new drainage system and lining to prevent leaks. 

Town staff say construction is nearly done, and next steps involve cleaning up after construction along with minor final touches.

This project came with a $24.5-million price tag. Breckenridge secured a $13 million loan from the Colorado Conservation Board to help cover the cost. Additionally, the town received a $10 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provided through the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The grant came out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, which is meant to help minimize the risks of possible dam failures.

The dam was deemed to be in unsatisfactory condition and was classified as a high-hazard dam, meaning its failure would likely result in the death of at least one person.

According to a FEMA assessment prior to construction, a failure likely would impact more than 2,000 residences and businesses in the Breckenridge area below the dam. It could have also potentially caused major damage to roadways and the community’s existing water supply.

The project’s completion comes a year later than originally anticipated. When Breckenridge’s public works director put out the original request for proposals to find a contractor it was March 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The county and the state had just gone into lockdown, which resulted in far fewer responses to that request for proposals than officials had hoped. Due to this, the town council voted to push back the project a year.

Although some unforeseen setbacks could occur, town staff said they are fairly confident the dam work will be done in November. 

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