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Implosion to turn Garfield Heights highrise to rubble

 

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By Tony LaRussa
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, September 22, 2005

The 14-story senior-citizen highrise in Garfield Heights will come crashing down in a plume of dust at noon Friday when a demolition contractor uses explosives to implode the 275-unit building.

About 150 pounds of dynamite and plastic explosives divided into 650 charges will be placed in holes drilled into columns on the first, second, third, sixth and 10th floors of the building and set off with an electronic ignitor, said Doug Loizeaux, of Controlled Demolition Inc., of Phoenix, Md., the subcontractor for the implosion work.

"We don't need a great deal of explosives to bring the building down," said Loizeaux, whose company did the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium in February 2001. "Most of the charges will be placed on the lower floors to allow gravity and the weight of construction to collapse the building. The explosives on the upper floor are mostly to help break up the debris."

Ed Dore, of Dore and Associates Contracting in Bay City, Mich., which received a $989,600 contract from the Pittsburgh Housing Authority for the demolition work, said the implosion "should be a pretty impressive thing to see."


"Because it's a long building, it will start collapsing in the middle and work its way out to both ends in an accordion effect," Dore said.

Implosion is the preferred method for taking down large buildings because it is safer and minimizes the length of time dust and debris lingers in the air.

"When a building is knocked down using conventional methods, dust and debris are created day after day," Dore said. "With implosion, it's over in a few seconds."

It is expected to take two to three months to haul the debris from the site. During that time, the material will be wet down to reduce the amount of dust that is kicked up, Dore said.

The implosion was originally scheduled for Aug. 19, but was postponed after some of the 350 residents in the surrounding Garfield Heights public housing complex raised safety concerns.

"We had several meetings with residents who were worried about the fact that we planned to implode the highrise while children were still off of school," said Michelle Jackson-Washington, spokeswoman for the city housing authority. "So we agreed to reschedule the work while the children were in school."

People who live in the 19 buildings in Garfield Heights will be taken to the Kingsley Center in East Liberty for the day and served breakfast and lunch, Jackson-Washington said. They also will be given take-home meals for their children when they return from classes in the afternoon.

About an hour before the implosion, Fern Street, where the highrise is located, and parts of Mossfield, Black and Chislett streets will be closed off. They will reopen after the building is demolished.

The housing authority is developing plans for new housing on the site of the highrise, which was built in the mid-1960s, as well as on land where the current townhouse apartments are located.

The residents of the highrise already have been relocated to the new North Aiken apartment complex across from the highrise.

Tony LaRussa can be reached at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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