A rock crusher the size of a tractor-trailer on Friday was smashing big pieces of concrete slab into little stones while also using an oversized magnet to cull metal debris into another pile.
The equipment, valued at about $1 million, is the centerpiece of a key Brainerd Road cleanup that's both environmentally friendly and profitable, said Thomas Williams, president of Steve Williams Construction LLC.
"In this economy, you've got to think outside the box," said Williams.
His company is demolishing two former auto dealerships on an eight-acre tract owned by Chattanooga Airport. The site, which previously housed a handful of buildings, is slated to become green space and walking paths. The renewal is designed to help rebirth the Brainerd artery for residents and business people.
Williams said the tons of stone and scrap metal his company is recycling and selling are keeping the materials out of landfills.
The impact crusher, a rare piece of equipment in the Chattanooga region, ultimately will handle 8,000 to 10,000 tons of asphalt and concrete on site, Williams said.
8,000-10,000: Tons of recycled asphalt and concrete at Brainerd Road site
$681,394: Cost of demolition, cleanup and seeding on the site
$4.7 million: FAA grant the airport received for the entire project
Source: Williams Construction, Chattanooga Airport
"Environmentally, it's the right thing to do," he said, adding that his company is actually making a product sold back to the airport and other entities.
Early on, said airport chief Terry Hart, officials talked to potential project bidders about how the dealership materials might be recycled.
"It has become second nature for our team to consider the environmental impact of each project we take on, so this was a common sense way for us to address our own needs while keeping these materials out of the landfill," said Hart.
Airport officials are using much of the stone as a base for its nearby solar park. After the first phase of the solar farm went online in late 2011, airport officials found it was difficult keeping the grass cut under the myriad of panels.
Airport spokeswoman Christina Siebold said stone has been placed underneath the racking of the second phase of the solar park that's under construction. Later, stone will be put under the adjacent solar farm's first phase, she said.
Total cost for the demolition project at the Brainerd Road site near Jubilee Drive, including reseeding, is $673,394, plus an additional $8,000 for the walkways, according to the airport.
The airport also is paying $9 per ton for the stone, about a 30 percent savings over buying rock from another provider plus additional hauling fees, officials said.
Williams said the metal is being sold for scrap.
"We see a considerable amount of steel each day," he said. "We're turning rubble into something that's profitable and usable. It's good for us and the environment."
Plans are to finish the crushing next week, Williams said, and be through with the project by late summer.
The airport paid $3.69 million for the two former car lots, which extend its runway protection zone. It received a $4.7 million Federal Aviation Administration grant for the project, which includes purchase of adjacent properties which have not yet been bought.
Hart has said the project money was already earmarked well before the federal sequestration of funds began this spring.
In addition to providing green space, the site also helps mitigate flooding along Brainerd Road, officials said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.