By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Del Norte County Engineer Art Reeve has figured out how to cure two of the county's resource problems with one solution.
He wants to use old pieces of concrete to replace hard-to-get river gravel in construction projects and save the county disposal costs.
"The Crescent City Landfill is projected to be closing this summer, therefore, another method of handling concrete and asphalt waste must be found. Second, now that gravel extraction has almost become impossible in this county, the need for reusing these gravel products is more important now than ever," Reeve said.
Reeve recently found a $50,000 grant to buy machines that will help process the scrap concrete.
The first test of the idea is scheduled for this summer when three of the county's salmon creeks are slated to have old, fish-blocking concrete culverts removed.
Reeve plans to process the culverts into base materials to reinforce State Avenue for the county's future transfer station truck traffic.
The ripped-out concrete will also be cut into slabs with the grant-funded machinery and used to stabilize stream slopes near the construction site.
In the process of dismantling the culverts and using them for the new road, Reeve said the county will learn how best to demolish old concrete and asphalt structures so they can be used again.
"We want to develop a procedure so that we tear it out in a way that we can reuse it at another project," he said.
The three stream culvert-removal projects at Minot Creek in Klamath, Peacock Creek in Hiouchi and Jordan Creek at Elk Valley Road, will be filmed to train the county's construction and demolition contractors as well as public works staff.
"With the closure of the landfill in the coming year, there needs to be new environmentally sound uses for these discards or else the disposal costs will rise to over $100 per ton," Reeve said.
Grinding the used concrete into gravel base for road, trail and stream-bank support will also fill the gap in gravel supplies currently suffered in Del Norte due to heavy restrictions now imposed by state Coastal Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"The majority of in-county gravel suppliers have closed due to lack of permits," Reeve said. That means shipping gravel in from Oregon or other California counties at significant shipping costs.
In 2002, more than 5,000 tons of concrete and asphalt were taken to the landfill. Though most of it was used by the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority for landfill projects, that won't be possible after the landfill closes; instead it would be shipped as waste to the Dry Creek Landfill near Medford.
"The activities covered under this project will immediately use 165 cubic yards of reinforced concrete and 700 tons of asphalt concrete that would otherwise be landfilled," said Reeve.