Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 4, 2013

Rock n’ roll: Demolition project evolves into innovative recycling initiative

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD —  It would be difficult for people who travel past the old Lyn Electric site on Bluefield Avenue not to notice the enormous pile of gravel  that appears to be growing daily. But passersby shouldn’t take this gravel for granite. It’s actually recycled concrete salvaged from the demolition of the Scott Street Parking Garage.

“When we were bidding the job, we recognized that the parking garage demolition, retaining walls and parking lot project couldn’t be completed in the budget the city had,” David Graham, project supervisor for Swope Construction said. “The potential bidders and Stafford Consultants came up with the idea of using recycled materials. It was a group idea. About 98 to 99 percent of the fill materials we are using on the retaining walls is made up of recycled materials.”

The process of removing the metal reinforcement bar from the concrete has been time-consuming, but even the metal has been recycled. “The machine that processes the cement separates the metal, folds the re-bar and leaves it in a bundle that Empire Salvage hauls off to be recycled,” Graham said.

Graham said that Lush Disposal owns the Lyn Electric site. He said that inspectors with the Environmental Protection Agency have visited the site twice following the site clean up, and it is “certified clean,” by the EPA.

“This is a new procedure,” Graham said of using the recycled material as backfill. “The retaining walls will be held in place by a geo-grid that goes back into the material,” he said. “The block itself doesn’t bear any of the weight.” He explained that the crew checked the crushed concrete to ensure that it would be suitable for use. “Water percolates very easily through it,” Graham said. “It’s been a win-win situation.”

Graham said that while Swope has not made any plans to submit the process as a high-value program to the Leeds Recycling Project. “It may qualify,” he said.

Crews should have most of the cement work poured within the next 10 days to 2 weeks. “We hope to have everything done except for the paving by the end of February,” Graham said.

“Right now, the inclement weather slowed the project down some,” Jim Ferguson, Bluefield city manager said. “The crews are ready to pour the steps from First Century Bank to the (Elizabeth Kee) Federal building. In the next 10 days, most of the concrete work will be done.”

Ferguson said the project has already opened up the view of the city.

“We will be capping the walls with a foot and one-half of topsoil,” Graham said. “It will look good when it is finished.”

— Contact Bill Archer at