This system was especially helpful as the breaker reduced large pieces of concrete rubble to smaller portions that could be handled by the crusher. With thousands of concrete chunks scattered throughout the demolition area, the efficiency and control provided were essential to keeping the project on schedule.
With the debris hauled off, the concrete driveway slabs and other foundational materials were next to be removed. Because the soil along most of the Biloxi coast is not of load bearing density, the original hotel architects had to place the structures on sections of flatwork supported by pile foundations. These long, slender columns transfer the load to soil or rock with high bearing capacity deep below the surface. Concrete pile caps placed atop the piles help facilitate the load transfer.
"The breaker will be instrumental in separating the pile caps from the piles," says Cantrell. "There's a chance with how muddy and rotten the ground is here that our excavators could get stuck. But we have to break those caps apart, and the breaker is really the only tool we can use to get it done."
Once the job is completed in September 2006, no concrete will be left on site. "It will be all dirt out here when we leave," says Cantrell.
Cantrell is pleased with the progress Cherry has made in spite of difficult logistical challenges. He also notes that Biloxi itself has accomplished a lot since Katrina. Eighty percent of the traffic lights are operational, and the infrastructure is almost completely intact, with water, sewer and power lines all available.
"Biloxi has recovered tremendously, but there's still work left to do," says Cantrell. "Casino Row is certainly building back more rapidly than a lot of the residential areas. Everyone is doing what they can to re-open and draw the public in, because that tourist revenue is really what's going to bring the city back."
The state of Mississippi has helped by changing a law that previously kept gambling off Mississippi soil. New legislation now gives the companies the option (which most are taking) of building their casinos on land along the Gulf of Mexico.
For its part, Cherry is making a difference wherever it can. "There are bits and pieces of the Grand Casino spread throughout the Gulf Coast," says Cantrell. "The hotel was full of glass chandeliers, tables and chairs and even some gymnasium equipment. We got in touch with several local charities to give away as much as we could, rather than simply junking everything."