Monday, February 24, 2003

Stadium rubble disappearing quickly

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's quite a vanishing act that Cinergy Field is pulling off for its last performance.

Every day, trucks haul away up to 60 loads of concrete and metal from the former stadium, to be recycled for use in new roads and buildings. Only 1 percent of the debris will end up in a landfill, O'Rourke Wrecking Co. President Mike O'Rourke estimated.

The rubble is disappearing at a breakneck pace.
A view from Great American Ball Park shows what remains of the rubble of Cinergy Field.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |

Just 155 days after the Reds played their last game at Cinergy and 57 days after it was imploded, half the stadium has been hauled away. Once a dominant feature of the skyline, the remains are difficult to spot now between the nearly complete Great American Ball Park and the rising National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

  Progress made to date on the Cinergy Field demolition, including the parking garages, bridges and, of course, the stadium itself, according to O'Rourke Wrecking President Mike O'Rourke:
Metal recycled so far: 14,000 tons out of about 16,000 tons total
Concrete recycled so far: 95,000 cubic yards out of about 130,000 cubic yards total
Debris carted off site daily: 50 to 60 dump-truck loads
On-site crew size: 18 to 20
Deadline for completion: Aug. 31, but O'Rourke is ahead of schedule
Total cleanup cost: $6 million
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Animation from Enquirer photos
O'Rourke has until Aug. 31 to finish the job, but he says crews are a month to six weeks ahead of schedule. The eastern half of Cinergy was cleared in mid-February, leaving an April 1 deadline in the dust.

"The cleanup effort is going very well," says Mike Sieving, construction executive for Hamilton County.

The county needed the eastern half finished first so it can build Great American's plaza, the Reds Hall of Fame and the west parking garage in time for Opening Day 2004, Sieving says.

Still to be cleared are the western half of Cinergy, most of a parking garage and the pedestrian bridge from 312 Walnut. The bridge is the trickiest job left, O'Rourke says, because it crosses Fort Washington Way. It can't be demolished until spring, when there's no danger the water used to control dust will freeze, he says.

For now, the Cincinnati-based company is working six days a week to clear away the debris created by the Dec. 29 implosion.

One Caterpillar excavator sits near the top of the pile pulling out beams and other pieces of twisted metal, and a second one lower down sorts that metal by grade. On the ground, a third equipment operator crushes concrete to free embedded reinforcement bars - better known as rebar.

The scrap metal goes to River Metals Recycling, 3 miles south in Newport. The concrete heads for Hilltop Basic Resources Inc., 1 miles east off of River Road.

Hilltop will crush the concrete chunks into gravel then stockpile it for sale later this year for road construction, says Hilltop Manager Mike Marchioni.

While concrete can't be recycled into new concrete, metal can be used to make new metal.

River Metals' scrap yard along the Licking River is the intermediary in that process. O'Rourke trucks deliver piles of metal from Cinergy several times an hour, then the yard crew sorts and chops the steel beams, rebar and other metal. Beams that are too big for the cutting machine fondly called the "guillotine" are hand-torched into 2- to 3-foot pieces.

Once cut, the metal is loaded onto barges and shipped to steel mills to be melted and reborn as beams, pipes and coils, Commercial Manager Dave Eisenacher says.

River Metals workers are unsentimental about chopping up the remains of the former home of the Reds and the Bengals. Their appreciation of the Cinergy job is purely practical.

"It's a job, and it puts a lot of people to work," says Willie Woods, yard supervisor and a 30-year veteran of the scrap metal industry. "We take a product nobody can use and make it into a product people can use."


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