Downtown businesses are primed for more pile driving | PostIndependent.com

Downtown businesses are primed for more pile driving

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Rachel Curry Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Brad Alexander has become a familiar face over the last week at businesses and office buildings surrounding the construction site for the new Glenwood Springs Library in the 800 block of Cooper Avenue.As the project superintendent for FCI Constructors, Inc., the general contractor on the library and nearby city parking garage project, Alexander has been busy going door-to-door informing merchants and downtown workers about a particularly disruptive phase of the library project that will be starting next week.Crews will be working for 10 days, from June 18-22 and again June 25-29, to drive steel pilings into the ground around the library site to shore up the perimeter and prevent cave-ins during the upcoming excavation phase.The work will be taking place between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on those weekdays. Construction activity is suspended on weekends.”People in the vicinity will feel the vibration and hear a lot of noise, no question about it,” Alexander said. “Some buildings will be affected more than others, depending on how close they are and the type of structure.”Four days of pile-driving in late May at the parking garage site, located at Ninth and Cooper, caught some area office workers and merchants a little off guard.Engineer Bruce Lewis, whose Boundaries Unlimited office is immediately south of the parking garage site, said he was unable to work those days and several of his employees had to go home. The disruption resulted in lost income, he said.Other nearby workers reported different degrees of impact.”I tried to last the whole day, but it just made me more grouchy as the day went on,” said Bill Kight, an employee in the adjacent U.S. Forest Service building.”I ended up leaving and working the next two days from the ranger station in Carbondale,” he said.”The pounding and vibration was a little on the nerve-racking side,” said another Forest Service worker, Anita Moulton. “But I think they did a really good job of keeping it at a minimum.”Cheryl Guay, owner of the Jewels & Gems store to the south on Grand Avenue, said she thought her building was going to collapse.”It was like being in an earthquake,” she said. “Everything was moving around and shaking. When it got really bad, we just had to go sit outside because we didn’t want to be in here.”Across Ninth Street at the Sunlight Ski and Bike Shop, owner Rob Jankovsky said the pile-driving work was certainly noisy, “but it didn’t really affect our business,” he said.”The construction guys have been really good to work with, and have been by several times to make sure we didn’t have any problems,” Jankovsky said. “We will have to put up with some pain for what will eventually be a nice addition to downtown.”As they did with the last round of pile-driving, FCI representatives have been doing some public relations with business neighbors as the pile-driving moves to the library site.”We had a lot of input after the previous work, so we want to give out factual information to people,” Alexander said. “We will have seismographic monitoring to make sure we stay within the thresholds.”Even though there was a lot of vibration associated with the parking garage work, it never came close to those thresholds.The work on the library site will involve use of the same 7,000-pound piston hammer mounted on a crane. The hammer will drive the more than 100 heavy steel pilings about 10 feet into the cobblestone-laden ground, Alexander said.Work will start with a series of under-pinnings alongside the Goluba building, which houses both the Goluba law offices and the Sunlight Ski and Bike Shop.”We’ll work our way down the west side of the site, and then move to the east side,” Alexander said. “The deeper piles are on the south end, so it will only get better [in terms of the duration] as we move to the lower end of the site.”Once the piles are driven, wooden forms are laid between them to shore up the edges before the excavation is done. The piling and wood structure will remain underground as part of the foundation, he said.The site will be excavated down about 16 feet to accommodate the underground parking garage that will be built beneath the two-story, 28,000-square-foot shared library and Colorado Mountain College facility.A series of screw-type pilings will be placed on the interior of the site, which will support the foundation. The screw piles do not cause as much noise and vibration as the drive piles, Alexander explained.At the High Country Gems and Minerals shop on Eighth Street across from the library construction site, owner Patti Rock Star was hoping for the best but bracing herself and her store for the worst nonetheless.”I told Brad, if anything moves or falls off the shelf, he’ll be hearing from me,” Rock Star said. “Everything in here is breakable. I thought about closing shop for two weeks, but I think I’d rather be here to make sure everything is OK.”jstroud@postindependent.com