Pumping forms Concrete Pond and Largest Casino Barge 2006
Leave it to the gaming industry to devise ways to bring casinos to the customer. With the riverfront more than 500-feet from a prime location in St. Louis and laws restricting casinos to floating venues, a 1.2 million gallon concrete pond will hold one of the largest concrete barges in the world at 72,400 square feet. The barge will house a proposed casino for Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. which is building a $400 million project that will include a luxury hotel and spa. Most of the concrete on the project, which also includes a parking structure and hotel on dry land, is being pumped and finished by Vee-Jay Cement Contractor Company, Inc, St. Louis using a diverse mix of equipment. They are pumping for general contractor McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., also headquartered in this river town.
Sam Vitale, Jr., third generation in family-owned Vee-Jay, describes the basin pour that took place on April 5, 2006, “The volume of the pour was remarkable because of the amount of concrete that was pumped and finished in one day. We had a crew of 64 men and three Schwing pumps, two S47SXs and a KVM 42. We started to pump at 3:00 a.m. and finished around noon. Each pump averaged 116 yards per hour on the three thousand plus yard pour.”
The basin measures 400-feet long by 186-feet wide. Limited space was available for pump set-up along one of the long sides. Vee-Jay personnel elected to locate one S47SX on the cramped side and the other S47SX along with their 42-meter on the opposite side. According to Ray Kaestner, 20-year Vee-Jay operator and recipient of an ACPA 2004 Safety Award, “The Super X outriggers on the 47 allows us to set-up in less space and still leave room for ready-mix trucks. The overhead roll and fold booms really helped us to move in less time because they fold and unfold without spinning the pedestals one hundred and eighty degrees. We were able to leapfrog the pumps in about twenty-minutes each so the pour was virtually uninterrupted.”
Three St. Louis based materials firms collaborated on ready-mix supply; Kienstra Materials hauled from 14 miles away; Breckenridge Materials and Riley Concrete hauled from 2 miles and 10 miles respectively. Pre-pour planning suggested the efficiency of one-way traffic for the truck mixers along the long sides of the pour with spotters at each pump to back the truck mixers up to the hoppers two at a time. Once emptied, the truck mixers sped straight ahead to a clean-out area on the way out that utilized heavy-duty boxes lined with poly.
The post-tensioned basin slab varied from 1 to 2.5-feet thick and utilized a 5,000 psi mix that was struck-off manually with 18-foot straight edges, paddled and finished with pan and seal trowel machines. Walls erected on the completed slab provide watertight edges and precast columns within the slab keep the barge in place.
During the curing time for the basin slab, Vee-Jay’s pumps stay busy on the site pouring an adjacent irregular shaped parking structure and 11-story hotel. Total square footage for the parking decks and hotel floors is more than one million square feet. The company used their S47SXs at the lower levels of the structure. “The overhead roll and fold booms let us angle the first section away from the pour and then insert the other three sections well into the deck areas, “ according to Kaestner. Once the structure exceeded the reach of the 47-meter boom pumps, Vee-Jay chose to set up a separate placing boom with two masts inserted in any of six strategically located, pre-engineered holes in the decks. Floor frames with wedges secure the two 53-foot masts.
“Picking weight was a concern for the contractor’s tower cranes so we purchased a Schwing 32-meter separate placing boom with a split main section,” explains Corey Finck, Vee-Jay project manager. This system provides a bolted joint in the middle of the boom’s first section allowing easy separation. Weights are reduced to 7,250 pounds for each half of the split boom. A continuous 32-meter boom weighs 13,700 pounds.
A hard line from the truck pump on street level is routed to the deck that is being poured. A diversion valve routes the mix to the mast being used. Clean-out is accomplished with compressed air and a ball which is discharged back into the charging hopper of a ready-mix truck at the end of the pour.
In early August the post-tensioned keel slab was poured. Vee-Jay again utilized their versatile S47SXs and a 42-meter Schwing but this time moved their separate placing boom off the parking structure temporarily to assist in the pour. Because construction of the adjacent hotel and parking lot now impeded truck pump access, Vee-Jay erected a free-standing mast and mounted the separate placing boom to reach a portion of the slab. The mast is mounted on a cross frame which was bolted to a 15’ x 15’ engineered concrete block buried on-site. The 32-meter separate placing boom was fed by a truck pump eighty-feet away. The 67,300 square foot slab pour required the boom pumps to relocate several times during the pour but strategic positioning of the separate placing boom assured that the pour was accomplished on schedule.
Because the keel slab was one of the larger lightweight concrete pours in the area and required sufficient pre-soaked aggregate, Vee-Jay employed two ready-mix suppliers, Raineri Building Materials and Five Star Concrete. Both producers are located relatively close to the project and haul times were critical because of a 90-degree temperature limit for the 5,000 psi mix.
The second slab was poured over the first with a bond breaker in-between. In the near future, when the basin is flooded, the buoyancy of the water will lift the world’s largest concrete barge. Upon completion of the project there will be 3,000 slot machines and 60 gaming tables floating in downtown St. Louis.
“A project this diverse and challenging requires great trust and cooperation between the general and the concrete contractor, “ Vitale stated, “The Pinnacle Project simply could not go this smooth without the excellent teamwork that general contractor McCarthy Building Companies, Inc has established on this project.”