Month: October 2007

7,220 tons of concrete later, the official, initial “Concrete Pour”

The new campus Center continues to rise out of the ground. Legions of rebars have been tied and serve as additional support in the concrete, and that is just the beginning. In the past month there has been no shortage of noise, gigantic equipment, or progress. The project is only 3 days behind schedule, and we are making up the time. Delays were caused by the amount soil nailing required and the unexpected “treasures” we kept finding around Sage Hall, all in need of either repair or replacement!

The footbridge over Lawe Street has been deconstructed (“demolished” has been banished from our construction vocabulary). The removal of the 75,000-lb. main section of the old bridge was an impressive feat. An additional crane placed on Lawe Street lifted this section out of the bridge and lowered it onto a waiting flatbed. I was sure the weight of the concrete and the flatbed might send the truck rolling down into the Fox instead of proceeding up to College Avenue, but 4 x 4s placed under the tires prevented the truck from rolling backwards. It wasn’t until the truck driver revved his engine and was ready to inch forward that the blocks were removed. The concrete piers for the footbridge have been removed and crushed for chat to lay under paths and the pedestrian mall. Pilings have been driven for the new bridge piers. We appreciate the indulgence of the professors lecturing at Wriston and the Delta- and Beta-House residents. It was noisy! Although the barricading of Lawe Street is an inconvenience to students heading to Alexander and to employees working down in the flats, our bridge construction and the Lawe Street bridge must be completed before expansion work begins on the College Avenue bridge in the summer of 2008.

I have written about safety in the past and continue to be amazed with Boldt’s safety standards. The Boldt Company is definitely “proactive.” All contractors and Boldt employees must read and sign off on the safety manual. Once a crew member signs the manual, a number is affixed to his hard hat confirming agreement to abide by the standards. Every day, the foreman reviews with his crew the risks and safety measures as well as the goals for that day. Boldt’s Safety Department at the company headquarters makes weekly inspections on the site and directs the crews into a proactive mode for any potential risk situations. I was interested to learn that Boldt’s standards often exceed OSHA standards. For example: OSHA requires men to “tie off” when they are 10′ off the ground while Boldt requires a tie off at 6′. There is zero tolerance for any deviation from the “Employee Work Rules and Safety Manual.”

The precision with which construction takes place is very impressive. Jeff Lamers, the Boldt safety guru and site supervisor, operates a “Total Station” which collects data, computes calculations, and completes the trigonometry necessary to affix exact locations for excavations and foundations. Outagamie County has a coordinate system which is tied to the United States system. The hubs established by this system are used as control points for calculations to be transfered to any building site by an infrared light, providing accurate details for the construction crews. Once measurements are set and concrete poured, dimensions are reshot to insure that the precise location has been met.

To readers of this blog: Our event marking the building of the Campus Center, a “Concrete Pour,” will be held on October 18th at 10:30 am at the foot of Lawe Street. I hope each of you will attend and watch the massive crane deliver a bucket of concrete to our stage. We have a trolley to take you down to the site and return you to the top of the hill. There will be a fanfare to announce the “pour,” favors to help relieve any stress you might be feeling and some treats! Join us for our celebratory “Concrete Pour.”