The Olmsted Resident Office, once bustling with more than 30 employees at the height of the project’s construction, now sits dark and empty waiting to be demolished in the coming weeks.
Originally constructed in 1994 to house construction division employees for the duration of the Olmsted Locks and Dam mega-project, the building is no longer needed. Since the project became operational in 2018, the construction footprint has reduced dramatically, including the number of personnel onsite.
The demolition bookends more than 30 years of the Olmsted Locks and Dam construction project and is a historic milestone for the hundreds of employees who passed through its doors.
“This is the end of an era for the employees of construction division and their families who have worked to complete this critical infrastructure improvement for the nation,” said Johnny Ringstaff, Deputy Chief Construction Division. “A debt of gratitude is owed to all of the dedicated employees who worked here showing the commitment to excellence required to complete this one-of-a-kind project.”
For some employees like Bill Hunter, Louisville District civil engineer, who has spent 25 years working out of the Olmsted Resident Office, says it feels like saying goodbye to an old friend.
“I worked with a lot of fine people in that building. I have spent approximately 25 years of my career in that facility, helped give it birth and will help oversee its demise.”
“Yes, I am sad,” he said. “It is an old friend. I hope I was a friend in return. The Olmsted project has gone full circle and so has my career.”
Hunter is one of the few who has watched the site transform before his eyes from barren land to the engineering marvel that it is today.
Hunter originally worked on the project from his office nearly 400 miles away in Rock Island, Illinois, and drove to Olmsted each week before he officially relocated to the Olmsted area in the fall of 1993.
“When I started to show up at Olmsted in May of 1993, we had two construction representatives on site, Glenn Munro and Ronnie Boswell. Bill Gilmour and Rick Schipp were also traveling to the site bringing us up to a total staff of five. We first worked out of a small building at Locks and Dam 53 as we worked on getting our hands around the first contract to build the formal Resident Office Building as well as paving the gravel county road, and building the road to the site.
“I was also trying to get the temporary office set up – computers, printers, vehicles and furniture – a fair amount of which came from the Quad Cities Area Office which was downsizing. I remember conducting a pre-construction conference for the Cofferdam project around our conference picnic table within that temporary office,” said Hunter.
Fast forward nearly three decades later and Hunter, who was one of the first ones in the new Olmsted Resident Office, is one of the last ones out as the building is torn down and he finds himself once again in a temporary office, this time a construction trailer onsite.
In February, the last five staff members moved to a temporary construction trailer in the adjacent parking lot. That crew will remain onsite through 2022 to oversee completion of the demolition of locks and dams 52 and 53 and associated contract closeout actions.
“The more than 8,300 square foot office will be demolished by the site restoration contractor and the ground will be restored to its natural condition,” said Greg Hales, Contract Performance Specialist.
“Once our closeout activities are completed, Construction Division will coordinate the removal of the trailer and turn the fenced parking lot over to Operations Division on our way out the gate.”