Bear Swamp: New Scrap

by kfrego

The Bear Swamp Project required thousands of cubic yards of concrete. The project had a new state of the art batch plant and a brand new fleet of trucks to deliver the concrete. Most of the trucks had a rounded dump body which was open on the top with a set of paddles which stirred the concrete. We also had a few typical drum type batch trucks like you often see on the public roads. The project schedule at Bear Swamp required a major concrete placement as soon as the batch plant was assembled and certified. The new fleet of concrete trucks were only a couple weeks old when the placement started. The chrome stacks, shiny wheels, and new paint were much different than normal heavy construction trucks.

The tailrace tunnels provided the only access into the bottom of the underground powerhouse. They were excavated under a subcontract by Gates & Fox Co. The subcontract required the bottom of the tunnels to be cleaned so line and grade could be verified. After the tunnels were accepted from Gates and Fox we had to build temporary roads along one side for construction access. The roads were elevated four to six feet above the bottom of tunnel and about half the tunnel bottom was covered by the fill. When placing concrete we installed our concrete pump in the bottom of the powerhouse with room for two trucks on the pump. As one empty truck exited the tunnel another would back down on the narrow road. There was always a truck on the pump and the concrete flow was continuous through a five inch slickline to the placement. When a large amount of concrete was required we would work round the clock until completion.

It was after midnight and we were about half way complete with a placement of nearly 3000 cubic yards to embed a steel penstock tunnel liner. One of the teamsters backing into the tunnel went off the side of the road and tipped over several hundred feet down the tunnel. The new truck was on it’s side and blocking the road for other trucks. My first response was to tell the concrete pump operator to move just enough concrete to keep the slickline moving. We had a near full load on the pump. My first phone call was to stop the batch plant from sending more full trucks. The second phone call was to the project equipment superintendent. It was a short conversation as we agreed the truck had to be cleared out of the tunnel. A Cat D-7 bulldozer with a big cable was nearby. We wrapped the cable around the frame of the batch truck just behind the cab. As we dragged the new batch truck out of the tunnel we left parts and pieces of chrome, glass, and fiberglass everywhere. Even the frame was demolished beyond repair. The whole incident had caused a little over a half hour delay.

We all felt bad about the new truck getting destroyed………..but we felt real good when the flow of concrete resumed.