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Project announced for Black Eagle Dam upgrades

ice black eagle dam.jpg
Black Eagle Dam
Breaking ice at the Black Eagle Dam
Posted at 3:30 PM, May 23, 2024

GREAT FALLS — NorthWestern Energy is preparing to upgrade the spillway of Black Eagle Dam on the Missouri River in order to enhance the safety and reliability of the hydroelectric facility.

Project announced for Black Eagle Dam upgrades

The utility company said in a news release that the project will involve installing new support structures and components of the spillway.

The upgrade will improve the integrity of the dam, and will also eliminate the need for manual ice removal, which is currently performed by NorthWestern Energy hydro crews during frigid temperatures. This will improve the safety of the workers and the efficiency of the operation.

The spillway upgrade will begin in September 2024 and take two years to complete. During this time, a barge will be located upstream of Black Eagle Dam to transport materials and equipment for the project.

A barge landing is located on the north side of the Missouri River, upstream from Black Eagle Dam. Vehicle access to the landing for supply and equipment deliveries crosses the River’s Edge Trail, west of the fenced entrance to the Black Eagle Island area.

The River’s Edge Trail at the vehicle access site may be closed at times to transport equipment and materials across the trail. While intermittent, delayed use of the trail for up to an hour may occur without advance notice. Any longer-term, planned closures will be posted on the NorthWestern Energy website.

In the event of intermittent delays, flaggers will be onsite to direct trail users to ensure the safety of the recreating public.

Metal plates are installed over the River’s Edge Trail at the vehicle access site to protect the trail. When the Black Eagle Dam Spillway Project is complete, the barge landing will be restored to the site’s original condition and the metal plates installed over the trail will be removed.

Ice at the Black Eagle Dam
Ice at the Black Eagle Dam