Slicing off the top of a hill so a warehouse club can build a store means moving a lot of dirt.
"They're moving dirt and have been about a week now just as fast as they can move the machinery," Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb said.
In the next three months, crews will move about 1 million cubic yards of dirt and rock from a site off Cloud Springs Road at Interstate 75 so Costco Wholesale can begin construction around May 24, officials have said.
"It'll take shape pretty quick," Mr. Cobb said.
ONE MILLION CUBIC YARDS ...
* Could form a block of dirt the size of the Costco store 19 stories high
* Is enough to fill the Tennessee Aquarium's Secret Reef tank 326 times
* Would fit in a box a football field wide, a football field deep and a football field high
* Is 13 percent of the 7.6 million cubic yards moved for Chattanooga's VW factory
The work will cost Catoosa County and Fort Oglethorpe $4.5 million, which will be paid for with sales tax, according to officials.
Once the dirt is removed, most of it will stay on site, according to Larry Armour, who owned the 16 acres on which the Costco will be built. He and a partner also own other property in the 60-acre tract between Scruggs Road and I-75 that they hope to develop.
"We'll basically be pushing all of that dirt north and filling in a hole," he explained.
He said about 350,000 cubic yards of dirt would stay on site. Another 200,000 or so would go for nearby state road projects, and 100,000 to 150,000 would go to other contractors for projects.
Mr. Cobb said about 100,000 cubic yards would be available for use in building a detention pond across Scruggs Road to control runoff from the store's parking lots. He also said all of the figures were rough because no one knew exactly how much dirt was in the hill.
Catoosa County Commissioner Ken Marks said taking dirt from the hilltop would allow the property owners to level out other areas to attract new businesses.
"There are several deep places, for lack of a better term, that that hill would fit right in," he said.