From the rocky shores of the Des Plaines River, in Riverside, Illinois, the crew from Illinois Constructors Corporation sized up the dam that needed to be broken down. It wasn’t going to be easy – typically, heavy construction equipment and water are natural adversaries, but the fact remained that they needed an excavator equipped with a hydraulic breaker somewhere in the middle of the Des Plaines River to begin work on this exceptional project.
In an effort to restore the aquatic ecosystem on the might Des Plaines, The United States Army Corps of Engineers came to the conclusion that one of the key efforts to achieve this goal involved the demolition of the Hoffmann Dam. The dam had been a part of the community since 1908, but after decades of debate and research, it was established that it was an ecological threat to the well being of the river and its inhabitants.
Illinois Constructors Corporation. were awarded the bid from the United States government, and equipped with a fleet of excavators and a Chicago Pneumatic RX-25 hydraulic breaker, they got to work. “We were presented with a number of challenges from the beginning,” explains Rusy Mitcheff, Operations Manager for Illinois Constructors Corporation. “The first one being that we needed a hammer with underwater capabilities.” With this in mind, the standard Chicago Pneumatic RX-25 breaker was outfitted with a water kit, which allowed Mitcheff and his team to attack the sturdy concrete dam in less-than-ideal conditions.
SES Equipment, based in West Chicago, Illinois provided the modified Chicago Pneumatic equipment, and the service team was faced with the challenge of waterproofing the unit without a decrease in performance of the versatile RX-25 breaker. The breaker that was used featured a retrofitted output hose to suction out and drain any river water that entered the unit. The water hose was then run to the rear end of the excavator, and distributed back into the Des Plaines River.
The folks at SES are no strangers to out-of the-box equipment requirements. They have been providing quality equipment solutions from top manufacturers since 1968, and have seen their fair share of unique requests. This however, presented additional challenges due to the consideration of using the hydraulic breaker underwater.
With a relatively tight total project budget of $7.3 million dollars, the contractor needed a highly productive tool to handle the work. The performance of the Chicago Pneumatic breaker allowed Illinois Constructors Corporation. to complete the project efficiently and in accordance with time constraints. “The RX breaker exceeded all of our estimates, which allowed us to complete the job well within our budget,” explains Mitcheff.
The demolition of the long-standing dam ultimately provided many benefits to the river itself, including; an improved fish habitat, the re-establishment of the riverine habitat, enhanced water quality, and safer recreational use of the river itself. This spring, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put the finishing touches on the project by planting water willow and other shrubs to expedite the revival of the Des Plaines River’s ecosystem.
The improved aquatic environment all started with breaking down a dam that had stood for over a century, proving that with the right equipment and a little innovation, anything is possible.