Controversy dogged the Jensen Unit of the Central Utah Project throughout its construction, sparked by massive cost overruns that more than doubled the project's estimated cost.
An Oct. 20, 1985, a copyrighted Deseret News story focusing on CUP noted that cost overruns during the construction of Red Fleet Dam were reported at $15.6 million. The escalated cost of the dam was just part of $86.5 million in overruns incurred while the seven projects on the Jensen and Bonneville units of the CUP were built.The dam, located on Brush Creek 10 miles northeast of Vernal, is the backbone of the CUP's Jensen Unit and was designed to impound 22,600 acre-feet of water.
The Red Fleet Dam "was designed in one era and built in another," said H. Walter Anderson, then assistant chief of design in the engineering and research center of the Department of Interior, explaining the massive change orders that plagued the project.
Thirteen construction companies wanted to build what was originally called the Tyzack Dam, submitting bids in 1977 that ranged from $12.7 million to $19.2 million.
The final cost was $28.3 million.
The dam was redesigned in the wake of the Teton Dam failure. The original design simply wasn't good enough.
Based on questions from consultants, additional foundation excavation and grouting were completed as well as site investigation and studies concerning seepage under the dam. Instead of conducting another competitive bidding process, the Interior Department handled the additional costs, which added up to more than double the original estimated construction price, as change orders.
In 1980, the project manager for Red Fleet called the dam "the safest ever built."