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Details revealed behind City Hall demolition

Details revealed behind City Hall demolition
Friday, April 12, 2013 - 9:49pm

On the eve of demolition weekend, the crews at City Hall continue to work around the clock.

Right now they are preparing the basement area, along with the fourth and eighth floors, making 410 holes total in the supporting structure, said Controlled Demolition, Inc. President Mark Louizeaux.

That is where they'll stick 214 pounds of explosives, made of nitroglycerine.

That Sunday morning, the official countdown begins right at 9 a.m. That's when the public will hear the first horn, signaling the 2-minute warning.

That horn will sound off again, at the 1-minute warning.

Then just before 9:02 a.m., the command center will begin its 15-second countdown, said Louizeaux.

But do not expect the big fall then.

First, you'll hear the initiation charges, then a four-and-a-half-second pause, said Louizeaux.

Then, the main charges will go off, and that'll be the start of the end, he said.

The first walls to fall will be on the northeast side of the building, followed by the northwest, then the south. This is in order to keep debris from falling onto Durango St.

There will be no ceremonial detonation "push." The person that will hit the button will be Controlled Demolition, Inc.'s project manager.

During the whole process, demolition leaders say safety is their top priority.

"Explosive demolition is not a spectator sport. What you're going to have here at the ballpark in the future, that's a spectator sport. This is serious business," said Louizeaux.

"Explosives are serious materials, they're dangerous. Even when they're handled by a professional company, they're byproducts of explosives handling," he said.

The City of El Paso has hired several contractors who have conducted numerous studies to prepare for the demolition, including tests for hazardous materials.

Asbestos and other harmful substances have already been completely removed from the building.

One of the big concerns is dust, which will take about 15 minutes to settle.

After that, the biggest priority is cleanup. Until that's done, city leaders can't begin to think about starting construction for the ballpark.

"There's 13,000 or more yards of material that we have to get out, and after that, we're just now getting our schedules coordinated as to when we start the retaining walls, and the other thing," said Alan Shubert, the City's ballpark engineer.

Coverage on NewsChannel 9 and Local 4 News begins at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

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