FORT KNOX, Ky. (June 26, 2020) — All this week, members of 502nd Multi-Role Bridge Company have been tearing down two buildings at 19th Engineer Battalion’s Mansfield Motor Park complex to make room for their equipment.
Plans for demolishment of Buildings 2974 and 2980 have been on the books at Directorate of Public Works for a while, but an offer from 19th Engineer’s leaders helped move it up in priority. The plan: 19th’s engineers would provide the labor, the unit benefits.
“There’s significant savings in labor costs [for the installation]; it’s a win-win, really,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Brown, the battalion construction plans officer. “Our bridgers need the space. Their fleet is huge.”
On-site supervisor Staff Sgt. Kyle Ferguson said the buildings, erected roughly in 1940, have sat unused and condemned for years. The company’s interlocking bridges are consolidated and packed into a cramped space next to Building 2974 while demolition continues.
The deconstruction of 2974 began June 22, when engineers from 4th Platoon carefully gutted internal structures while leaving the external framework, walls and roof intact. Soldiers ripped out sheetrock, removed windows and doors, and unbolted the metal stud frames that made up the internal walls.
The officer in charge of the demolition, 2nd Lt. Annie Schreiner, said they are taking their time with the project to ensure everyone’s safety and recycle as much as possible. Every other day, someone from the Recycle Center picks up the scrap metals, glass, and pipes left behind.
“We’re separating all the metal from the trash,” Schreiner said. “Once we get the roof down and all the debris from that removed, we’re going to hit three different I-beams with the dozer and that should safely collapse the rest of the structure in on itself.”
The three I-beams have been placed strategically on the outside of the building so that when they are removed, the remainder of the building will come straight down, said Ferguson.
“All the internal structures will out of the way by then, and we’ll start working on the roof,” said Ferguson. “The actual building won’t come down until sometime next week.”
Schreiner said a small hiccup has caused them to slow down the demolition of Building 2980.
“We don’t have the silt fence for that building yet; it hasn’t come in,” said Schreiner. “It’s part of our erosion control plan.”
Silt fences keep soil intact on disturbed land to prevent erosion and contamination spillage, said Ferguson. Schreiner explained that while they wait for the fence to arrive, they will focus on demolishing just the internal elements of the 2980.
Asbestos removal took place prior to the start of the demolition project, according to Ferguson.
“We had a little situation where they had a bit of black mold around the area, so we have them wearing the N95 and N100 protective masks. If they are working in direct contact where there’s some mold, we have respiratory masks for them to wear,” said Ferguson. “They’re not coming into any contact with it, so they’re not in any danger.”
They have been received some help by drivers from 42nd Clearance Company, who are knocking down the cinder block walls and piling up the debris for later removal. The Soldiers of 42nd will also team up with 502nd once they’re done with the demolition project.
Schreiner’s team has also been given the nod to start demolition work on two of the five buildings at Potts Tank Motor Park— the maintenance area tagged to become the future home of U.S. Army Cadet Command, which will be moving out of Burke Motor Park to make way for V Corps. She said her team is getting more efficient and faster with each building demolition.
“This has been a big learning experience for us. Even just the difference in taking down 2974 and now 2980, it’s going a lot faster and smoother,” said Schreiner. “They know what they’re doing now. When they’re here, they know exactly what needs to get done, and they’re getting after it.”