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Concrete, parking steel to find a new life through recycling

The Huntsville Municipal Parking Garage A is no longer. Demolition crews with large machinery demolished the structure down to its foundations to make way for a new city hall with an attached parking lot.

Crews are demolishing the old Municipal Parking Lot A to make way for a new Huntsville City Hall. Garage materials will be recycled and reused for future applications.

Piles of broken concrete and twisted metal were loaded onto dump trucks and transported to the Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) in Huntsville. It’s not the end of the road for these materials, however. In the case of the concrete remains, the road has only just begun.

“We recycle concrete,” said Ricky Wilkinson, general services manager for the town of Huntsville. “It will be ground up and can be used as base material for temporary roads or anywhere you could use gravel.”

A recycled idea

The idea of ​​recycling building materials is unique and environmentally friendly, but not uncommon. Wilkinson said it has become more common because recycling processes have improved.

Machinery picks up remains from the municipal parking lot under blue skies.  The Madison County Courthouse is visible in the background.

With the demolished parking garage, it is easier to see other downtown buildings. Work on the site of the new Huntsville City Hall can begin when the debris from the garage clears.

“The equipment needed to break concrete is more reasonably priced, so it’s more common now,” he said.

Rebar and protective guardrails from the garage will be melted down at a recycling center in Birmingham and reused in future applications. Brandon Tucker, project manager for city hall contractor Turner Construction Company, said most of the structural steel is recycled.

“That’s how most metal producers in the United States develop their products,” he said. “Concrete rebar may have been a car part that was melted down and reused. The quality of the steel is as good or better than virgin steel because it has to meet many strength requirements.

More importantly, scrap metal doesn’t take up space in a landfill, which Tucker says is a big plus for Huntsville residents.

“This work has more recyclable content than usual because it’s a concrete structure,” he said. “When you have materials that can’t be reused, the disposal costs add up and that impacts the landfill. It’s not good for the taxpayer or the contractor.

Look forward

Wilkinson and Tucker said the demolition project moved ahead quickly, thanks to an extended period of good weather. Once the last concrete and metals have been removed, construction work on the new town hall can begin.

“Very soon we will have a building that will rise from the ground and be a lasting legacy,” Tucker said.

Construction of the new City Hall could begin to go vertical in May or June. The project is expected to be completed by 2024.

There’s a sense of excitement about the project among Turner Construction employees, Tucker said, because many employees are part of the Huntsville community. Because of this connection, they are proud of the project.

“We’re all local,” he said. “Our work is downtown, but on weekends you’ll find us downtown enjoying all the community has to offer.”

Click here to learn more about the future Huntsville City Hall.

Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins