The tower is set to come down this Sunday, March 11 at 1:30 p.m. Officials have designated a 700 foot exclusion zone around the area which is off limits on implosion day. Nearby residents and guests of the Capital Plaza Hotel must remain indoors 45 minutes prior to the implosion and 15 minutes after the implosion.
Here are some answers to questions you may have about the project.
Why is state government tearing down the building?
For over a decade, the Commonwealth has conducted numerous studies of the Capital Plaza Tower and attempted to assess maintenance and operational issues associated with the campus. The most recent study, updated in 2011, includes, but is not limited to, issues such as:
• Non-compliance with seismic design requirements;
• Lack of adequate fire protection and alarm systems;
• Non-compliance with energy code;
• Excess energy and maintenance costs;
• Repair costs that were estimated to exceed 50% of the replacement costs.
What is the difference between an implosion and an explosion?
There is a huge difference between an implosion and an explosion. An implosion is a strategic engineered placement of explosives that produces a progressive failure of a structure. In this instance, the energy is directed inward to the tower itself. A typical blasting or explosion, is done in bedrock and causes significantly more seismic activity and transference of vibrations greater distances.
When and what streets will be closed on Sunday, March 11? Are there parking restrictions?
All streets adjacent to the exclusion zone will be closed beginning at various times throughout the morning and afternoon.
Closures will affect the following streets:
· 9 a.m.: Mero Street closed from Wilkinson Blvd. to Ann Street.
· Lewis Street closed from Clinton to Mero.
· 12:30 p.m.: Clinton Street closed from Wilkinson to Ann Street.
· The West Frankfort Connector/Mero St bridge closed from Wilkinson to Taylor Ave.
· The West Frankfort Connector/Clinton St bridge closed from Wilkinson to Taylor Ave.
· 1 p.m.: Wilkinson Blvd. closed from Leestown Lane to Clinton Street.
· No parking on Lewis St. from Clinton to Mero.
· No parking on Ann St. from Clinton to Mero.
· No parking in lot behind the Old Capital and Annex.
· Restricted parking at Farmer’s Market lot and YMCA lot at Wilkinson and Broadway.
Where can people go downtown to view the implosion?
We are providing information on the areas, in addition to the 700-foot buffer exclusion zone around the tower, that will be restricted to the general public. Those wishing to be downtown can determine where they may want to go to view the implosion. Again, there will be dust. Each individual will need to decide if they want to be in an area where dust may or may not be.
The upper deck area behind and to the sides of the Frankfort YMCA building will not be accessible to the general public because of weight capacity issues. This area will be restricted to media, staff and guest pass-holders.
The upper deck area behind the Watts Federal Building is limited to 350 people because of weight capacity issues. Public access will be monitored in that area based on the aforementioned capacity.
Will there be a ceremony before the implosion?
There will be brief remarks prior to the implosion. The short ceremony will be on the deck area between the Watts Federal Building and the YMCA. It will begin at 1 p.m. and conclude at 1:15 p.m.
Will I be able to view the implosion from Fort Hill or River View Parks?
No. Both parks will be closed as they are within the exclusion zone.
Are drones allowed?
The only restriction from the demolition company perspective is drones need to be at least 300 feet away from the building so as not to interfere with the implosion. Drone operators will need to abide by the local, state or federal regulations governing drone usage.
What if my drone gets dust in it or is hit by debris?
Dust will interfere with GPS. All drone operators will operate their drone at their own risk.
Will there be some sort of sound warning before the implosion?
The implosion is to happen at 1:30 p.m. There will be two 2-second long auditory warning sirens indicating 2-minutes to blast. At 1-minute to blast, there will be one 2-second long auditory warning siren. The countdown will begin 10 seconds out.
How long with the implosion take?
The actual implosion will occur in less than 30 seconds. There will be some nearby roadways temporarily closed beginning no later than 12:30 p.m. They will be reopened once the all clear sign is given, which should be approximately 15 minutes after the implosion. As soon as details on street closures are finalized, this information will be shared.
How big is the exclusion zone? Why is it the size that it is?
The exclusion zone is approximately a 700-foot square buffer on all sides of the tower. This zone will be off limits to everyone on the day of the implosion.
One reason for the size of the exclusion zone is for noise purposes, especially given that the explosives will be above ground in the building. Staying further than 700 feet away will insure that people are not subjected to high noise levels that might cause injury. For homeowners within the zone and hotel occupants, they will be required to stay indoors during the blast for noise purposes.
The other reason for the size of the exclusion zone is debris from the implosion. It is expected for the debris to be contained in the space bounded by Wilkinson Blvd, Hill Street, St. Clair and Mero Street—all of which are well within the exclusion zone.
How much dust will there be?
The Capital Plaza Tower is a pre-cast concrete structure. These materials do not fully disintegrate to the same small particle size as say, a brick masonry building. Concrete dust is heavier and generally does not travel the same distances prior to falling out of the air. Additionally, many of the dust generating materials such as acoustical ceiling tile, pipe insulation, wood paneling and doors, carpeting, drywall, asbestos containing materials, etc. have all been removed. Again, dust is the unavoidable byproduct of all types of demolition—so there will be dust. How much dust will be generated is unknown. Wind direction, speed and other climate factors will impact how far dust may travel or how fast it settles.
The quantity of dust created throughout this demolition process is the same as would be created by conventional demolition. The advantage of implosion is that the dust is created at one, predetermined time. It is not present over an extended period of time.
Should people take precautions regarding dust?
If an individual has respiratory issues that would be aggravated by dust, then stay indoors during the demolition and immediately after. If anyone finds dust irritating or uncomfortable, then they will need to determine what type of personal precautions to take. Or, they can decide to stay home and watch the implosion on TV or on Facebook.
Do vents need to be shut off because of the dust?
While debris will be contained within the zone, dust from the implosion presents the main unknown as it is the unavoidable byproduct of all types of demolition. How far the dust travels will depend on wind speed and direction that day. To help lessen the dust, for the last several months, the demolition contractor has been removing the majority of dust producing materials from the building such as drywall, plaster, ceramic tile, and carpet. Also, all hazardous building materials such as asbestos containing materials have been removed during the pre-implosion demolition process.
In most implosion projects of this nature, the majority of dust should settle down within 15-30 minutes—again, depending on wind speed and direction. If it is raining, this will calm the dust down much more quickly. Air vents do not need to be shut off. However, if a homeowner will feel better by turning their heating or a/c off, then that is certainly their choice.
How long will the dust cleanup take?
The dust clean-up time depends on weather conditions at the time of the implosion. After workmen have been cleared to enter the area, dust cleanup will immediately begin. Adequate crews and equipment will be on site to implement this process. The outermost perimeters will be cleaned first working inward to the areas that experienced the largest concentration of dust. This is done so that the largest portion of streets and residents can return to normal activities as soon as possible.
What company is doing the demolition work?
Renascent Inc. is the demolition contractor for the project. They have contracted with Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI) for the actual implosion of the tower. CDI has tremendous experience in doing this type of work all over the world having imploded more than 8,000 structures during the company’s 67-year history. In fact, CDI was the main demolition contractor for the Commonwealth Building, a 24-story, structural steel office building similar to the Capital Plaza Tower, located at 745 West Main Street in Louisville. The Commonwealth Building, situated only 20 feet from the brand new headquarters of the Commonwealth Insurance Company, was successfully imploded on January 16, 1994 without incident.
What rules and regulations do the demolition company have follow?
There are many rules and regulations that must be followed and many local, state and federal agencies have oversight of some aspect of the process. To say this project has been reviewed and scrutinized by all the applicable agencies is an understatement. The demolition company has submitted permit applications and provided a huge amount of documentation in order to receive permission for all sorts of actions.
Won’t the implosion create major vibrations?
Because the implosion is specifically designed for the energy to go inward and to minimize vibration, the tower will “curl” as it falls, which will soften the impact as the building comes down. The ground vibration is from the impact of the structure with the ground, not the explosives. The contractor is preparing a “building pad” in the area where the building is expected to impact the ground, which will serve to additionally soften the impact and cause the seismic vibration to not be transferred to the bedrock below. The physical feeling of the vibration is difficult to quantify because of the uniqueness of each project. However, some describe the feeling is similar to standing next to a fast moving train or a thunderstorm.
How will I know vibrations won’t harm my house?
There are many federal and state regulations that CDI must comply with. For regulatory purposes, and to document any pre-implosion damage that exists in a structure and to document any alleged damage post-implosion, CDI is required to have the independent geotechnical consultant inspect all structures within the exclusion zone and document its findings. Copies of these pre-blast and post-blast surveys of properties will be reviewed by representatives from the Finance Cabinet’s Division of Engineering and will be provided to each property owner whose property is surveyed.
We anticipate the debris impact will cause little or no vibration to nearby structures. The independent third-party engineering consultant specializes in seismic monitoring and will measure ground vibration levels on the day of the event to verify the implosion went as planned. These values will be compared to the U.S. Bureau of Mines vibration criteria for residential/commercial structures.
In the highly unlikely event should damage from the implosion occur, CDI will be liable and will be required to repair that damage.
Will I have to leave my home? If so, when?
Safety is the number one consideration of all workers and people. Nearby residents and hotel guests must remain indoors from 45-minutes prior to the implosion to approximately 15-minutes following the implosion. The purpose of this shelter indoors requirement is to protect persons from sound vibration that could potentially cause injuries. By staying indoors, with windows and doors closed, there is no potential problem. Should residents or hotel guests wish to leave, they will need to do so at least an hour prior to the implosion. In the 7-10 days prior to March 11, CDI will meet with nearby building owners to inform them of the procedures that will be in place on the day of the implosion and to answer any questions they may have.
What should I do about pets?
If you have pets and are in the exclusion zone, they should be sheltered indoors to insure they do not go near where the debris will be falling. If your pets are typically unsettled by thunder or other loud noises, then you may want to take precautions as you normally would during a storm.
What should property owners near but outside the exclusion zone do to protect their homes?
Should homeowners have items they feel need extra protection, whether inside or near the outside of the exclusion zone, then they will need to determine what precautions they want to take. For example, the Kentucky Historical Society, which has responsibility for items in the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History and the Old State Capitol, has protected anything that a strong vibration could potentially damage. However, the Kentucky Historical Society is comfortable that these facilities are located safely outside of the exclusion zone and should not experience any negative effects from vibrations or shock waves. Although the KHS buildings are outside the exclusion zone, they will change building air filters as a precautionary measure.
Again, because the implosion is specifically designed for the energy to go inward and to minimize vibration, the tower will “curl” as it falls, which will soften the impact as the building comes down. The ground vibration is from the impact of the structure with the ground, not the explosives. The physical feeling of the vibration is difficult to quantify because of the uniqueness of each project. However, some describe the feeling is similar to standing next to a fast moving train or a thunderstorm.
How strong do vibrations have to be to cause damage to paint, plaster or other things such as sidewalks?
The strength of vibrations is measured in inches per second (ips). On average, loosening of paint, plaster cracks, or lengthening old cracks, would occur at 5-6 ips. This implosion will generate at or below 0.5 ips, which is one quarter of the strength of vibrations that would cause damage.
Again, the implosion demolition industry has a successful record of bringing buildings down in close proximity to other structures. In many projects, the buildings demolished are located very close to structures, which are to remain. The closest structure to the tower, the Capital Plaza Hotel, is more than 400 feet away, an ample distance to reduce/eliminate the risk of damage to adjacent properties.
While specific site conditions and subsurface conditions are all unique, below is a chart showing a generally accepted comparison of vibrational impacts of implosions on structures such as buildings and bridges as well as utilities. The chart shows how strong the vibrations would need to be to cause damage if something is in the exclusion zone or outside the zone.
I’ve heard there is the potential for ground water contamination from the explosives. Is that a possibility?
That is unfounded. Consider that every bit of rock blasted to create aggregate for concrete, metal ore that is mined for production of different metal products, coal that is blasted and other material generated through blasting operations in the U.S and…worldwide…would be contaminated, which is simply not the case.
What has been the experience of similar urban locations with buildings imploded close by?
The implosion demolition industry has a successful record of bringing buildings down in close proximity to other structures. In many projects, the buildings demolished are located very close to structures, which are to remain. The closest structure to the tower, the Capital Plaza Hotel, is more than 400 feet away, an ample distance to reduce/eliminate the risk of damage to adjacent properties.