Hospital crane coming down

SCOTT JOHNSON, crane operator at St. Mary’s Hospital, is credited with a stellar safety record during the nearly two years at the Century Project site. The crane owner,  Morrow Crane Co., also deserves credit for safety, said Rob Jenkins, project manager.

The tallest structure in the valley is about to be laid low.

Dismantling began Thursday morning on the orange crane that stretched high over St. Mary’s Hospital’s Century expansion and remodeling project for almost two years. But because of dangerous winds, that quickly came to a halt. Depending on the weather, the crane may become a memory before the end of next week.

“This involves great risk,” said Rob Jenkins, who is managing the project for St. Mary’s. “As you might know, there have been a number of crane accidents over the few last years.”

The dismantling process of the nearly 300-foot-high crane, which had to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration and lit at night because it posed a hazard for aircraft, is accomplished in the same manner as the machine was assembled. It is just done in reverse.

The first step is to remove a 21-foot section between the boom and the top of the tower.

Three steel-beam anchors that secured the crane to the hospital will be picked off. A flatbed trailer will be used to haul the sections off-site.

“That will happen hopefully (this) morning, if the winds are less than 20 mph,” Jenkins said.

“Those (anchors) will come out,” then additional sections will be disassembled for a total of six sections.

To accomplish that, another mobile crane will be positioned west of the hospital’s parking garage. It will start with the queen post (the flag), then the jib, the operator’s cab and the remaining tower sections.

Jenkins credited the crane’s owner, the Morrow Crane Co., and Scott Johnson of Glade Park, who operated the crane, for a stellar safety record while on the Century Project job site.

“We have had no accidents associated with the crane, no significant problems during its operation,” he said.

The addition to St. Mary’s — the 12-story tower — will add 434,000 square feet, and 75,000 square feet of other hospital sections will be remodeled. It is anticipated the tower will be open to the public by the first quarter of 2010, and the remodeling will be completed in early 201l, he said.

“We are on schedule,” Jenkins said.


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