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10-story tall crane turns into 3 million tons of scrap metal

Published May 9, 2019

The skyline at Olmsted Locks and Dam changed forever, May 4, 2019, as the super gantry crane, built especially for the construction of the Olmsted Dam in 2010, was demolished marking another significant milestone in the project’s history.

With the flip of a detonator switch the crane was transformed into 3 million pounds of scrap metal. This method of removal proved to be the most innovative and cost effective as this type of demolition resulted in a savings to the government of more than $1.1 million, according to Mick Awbrey, Olmsted Locks and Dam program manager. 

In the absence of a recipient through the federal reutilization and sales process, it was determined that piece-by-piece disassembly cost would have resulted in a loss to the government of nearly $1.3 million. Demolition using explosives cost less than one fourth that of disassembly and through sales of resulting scrap, the loss to the government was significantly reduced providing a total savings to the government of $1,137,376.

Louisville District Construction Representative Steve Smith was on site during the demolition. 

“It was very exciting for everyone who has been here and involved with the project,” Smith said. “It was a monumental event and really marked the beginning stages of the project closing out.”

The super gantry crane helped build one of the largest construction projects in USACE’s history. The steel structure moved pre-cast shells to the top of the marine skid-way from their positions in the pre-cast yard and was needed to lift, place and assemble sections of the new Olmsted Dam. What used to be the nation’s largest gantry crane, had a lift capacity of 5,304 tons and stood 10 stories tall. 

Rest in peace, super gantry crane. The Louisville District thanks you for all of your hard work and heavy lifting.