Earth Savers Clears Way for Life Savers

Thu May 08, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Cronin



The Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center will be a place where healing and hope reside.

Located on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, the center will offer access to doctors, counseling, treatment and a greater variety of clinical trials and new drug options. It also will house a pharmacy and women’s cancer clinic.

But before the healing can begin, the center needs to be constructed. And even before that, the way needs to be cleared.

That’s where Earth Savers Inc. comes in.

The Pittsburgh, Pa.-based contractor has started to demolish a three-story parking garage along Jefferson Park Avenue.

The Earth Savers crew participated in the April 12 groundbreaking ceremony. Instead of the line-up of dignitaries in suits and hard hats flinging shovels of dirt for the cameras, a Link-Belt excavator rolled onto the site with a 4,500-lb. (2,041 kg) hammer and started chipping away at the West Parking Garage. As the hammer’s impact echoed through Charlottesville, members of Cavalier Marching Band played the 1812 Overture.

Two Link-Belt excavators are the stars of this demolition — a 210 LX with a 4,500-lb. hammer, which is owned by Earth Savers, and a 330LX with a Genesis shear, rented from Link-Belt Mid-Atlantic.

Sandwiched between two U. Va. hospital buildings, the Earth Savers crew has had to keep resulting dust at the forefront of their minds, said Project Manager Chuck Dolansky Jr.

“Dust control is constantly an issue on this project,” Dolansky said.

At times through the project, the crews will need to use a debris netting system and move the work zone into the surrounding streets as a precautionary measure.

“There are areas where the building is 10 feet off the sidewalk,” Dolansky said.

Superintendent Dan Nichols said the garage is a combination pre-cast / cast-in-place structure, which means the chance that it’s unstable is greater with more points of connection.

The demolition will result in approximately 4,800 cu. yd. (3,670 cu m) of concrete and 140 tons (127 t) of rebar.

Dolansky said he is still in the process of selecting a recycler. Debris won’t start leaving the site until later in the project, when most of the structure is down and the crew has had the chance to process and segregate the material.

“We want to maximize the recovery of metals and put that back into the profitability of the project,” he said.

Waiting until later to remove the debris also allows more space for trucks to maneuver. Dolansky said he wants to ensure the recycling firm’s trucks are in and out on a timely basis to help save costs.

While Earth Savers generally recycles its own material, Nichols said time constraints on this job require the crew to look elsewhere. The job must be completed by May 23.

Three operators and two labors are working 10-hour shifts, five days a week.

Earth Savers has been bringing down structure for the past decade. A minority-owned and HUB zone company, it does approximately $6 million worth of demolition a year and employs 25 people. As seen by this job, the company does not restrict itself geographically.

“You have to be willing to go where the work’s at,” Nichols said. “If you limit yourself to a small market, you’re going to get a small reward out of it.”

A union operator by trade, Nichols went out on his first demolition job in 1997 and immediately knew it was his calling.

“From then on, I never looked back,” he said. “My mom always said, ’You’re good at making a mess, so stick with it.’”

The groundbreaking ceremony for the $74 million Couric Center attracted more than 300 guests.

“This building will bring together great minds to fulfill the promise of an academic medical center, university President John Casteen told the crowd. “Discoveries made here will advance cancer care for future generations.”

The center is named after a former state senator who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in October 2001. She had encouraged U. Va. to create a new type of cancer center that not only treated the disease, but the whole person.

Emily Couric’s sister, CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric, a U. Va. alumna, called the event “bittersweet.”

“We would much rather be here with Emily celebrating another great accomplishment of hers,” Couric said. “But we are really happy and grateful that so many people have come together to honor her. She thought to have a first-class cancer center that focused on patients and not just the disease would be a wonderful thing for this community.”

The five-story, 150,000-sq.-ft. (13,935 sq m) center will be completed in 2011. CEG