Saturday, February 2, 2019

Hope Lake Jackhammer Party

It was a brisk morning in February, Groundhog Day to be exact, with the wind in the trees, the woodpeckers drumming, and the sound of jackhammer on concrete in the distance.  The Trails Committee was removing an old concrete bridge foundations out in Hope Lake.

In the old days farmers would wait for the cold of winter to move heavy objects over frozen ground.  After a lot of planning and logistics Mark Vallaro decided that today the ice would be strong enough to remove the old concrete bridge foundation out in Hope Lake.

Mike, Mark, and Jim are jackhammering the concrete foundation.  Mark, Joe, and Bill had gone over to Home Depot in Derby to rent an electric jackhammer and portable generator (more on that later), which were then skidded and rolled across the ice to the work area.

Portions of the removal were awkward, because the concrete was tilted at a funny angle.  It was a challenge to get the jackhammer positioned properly, and still have a place to stand.  And the electric jackhammer was heavy!  It didn't seem to bad at first, but it got heavier and heavier as the day went on.
We attacked the concrete from various angles trying to gradually break it into smaller pieces.  We though this would go quickly, but the concrete was very strong and didn't feel like giving up easily.

Mark did a lot of planning for this work party.  One of the things that worked out surprisingly well was a temporary walkway of OSB plywood screwed into the ice.  It gave great footing for moving wheelbarrows and buckets of concrete chunks back to shore.  A couple of us were wearing micro-spikes, but the rest wore regular boots and had good footing.

This is the typical setup with the portable generator and Hilti jackhammer.  A series of holes would be drilled in the top and sides of the foundation, and when necessary the concrete was encouraged to split with 12 lb. sledgehammers and rock bars.

Here's Jim with the jackhammer while Mark, Joe, and Mike are using bars to loosen the foundation chunks.  A number of people got a shot at the jackhammer, but Mark did the bulk of that work.  Everyone got covered in concrete dust or shot with flying chips.  We used safety glasses and ear muffs but it was dirty work.  It certainly makes one appreciate construction pros who work with jackhammers daily.

 The bigger pieces were carried by rebar (yes it had rebar too) or slid on the ice to shore.

   After about 5 hours we got the last of the concrete out.

 Finished!  Joe, Bill, Jim, Mike and Mark have the victory photo over the concrete.

There's still a bit of clean up for tomorrow, but the view up Hope Lake is improved by removing that old bridge abutment.  The other abutment will probably become a bench along the lake.

Some of the concrete debris hauled up to Oak Valley Road for removal next week.  This is about half of what was removed.

One of the biggest tasks was hauling the portable generator back up to the road.  There were 4 of us doing it and I think that we stopped 4 times just to catch our breath.  But everything and everybody got back OK.

Jim took the Gator and tools back.  Thanks to Joe for lending his truck to pick up the heavy jackhammer and generator.  Joe and Bill returned the jackhammer and generator back to Home Depot; who very graciously donated the rental time to the Shelton Trails Committee and Conservation Commission.  Thank You Nancy.    It's always great when a local business helps out trails volunteers. 

So we decided to do our part and patronize another local business; Bad Sons Brewery in Derby.   We completed a long-standing wish list project to restore a portion of Hope Lake.  We tried a new construction method and learned a lot.  We were dusty, dirty and tired.  There may be a lot of aches and pains tonight, but nobody lost any fingers or toes.  Today was a success.  Cheers from your friendly, neighborhood Shelton Trails Committee.