CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT North America

Contractor Uses High Reach Excavator for Complicated Bridge Demolition

Demolishing big structures comes with the job for Greg Bair, but rarely does he get a project so large in his company’s hometown.

Greg Bair Track Hoe Service Inc. is in the midst of demolishing a large interstate bridge connecting downtown Kansas City to the western suburbs. His crews and equipment are working in tight jobsite spaces surrounded by a busy section of town trafficked by cars and railroads.

“Kansas City is a small market,” said Bair. “There’s not a lot of big demolition.”

His crews are handling both the demo of the I-70 westbound bridge and the debris removal. Their work must be finished before the contractors hired to rebuild the new bridge can start construction. That means it’s critical that they are productive and meet deadlines. To help them get the job done, they’re using a Volvo EC480 HR high reach excavator for some of the most challenging aspects of the project.

“Adding a high reach helped us stand out from the competition,” Bair said. “Customers know that we have the resources to get the job done and to do things the right way and safely.”

Specializing in Difficult Jobs

Bair knows the Kansas City market well. He started Greg Bair Track Hoe Service in 1990 with just one other employee and an excavator with a hoe ram attachment.

“I love tearing stuff down,” Bair said. “I’ve always looked for the odd jobs — the harder ones that most people weren’t interested in.”

The company has grown to employ around 30 people and earn a reputation as one of the best demolition companies in the U.S. They complete 40 to 50 bridge demolition projects a year, and approximately 700 total jobs annually.

“We like tedious track hoe work,” said Bair.

Picking the High Reach

Bair’s focus on consistency includes his fleet, which contains more than 40 excavators. He wants as many of them as possible to be the same brand, which he believes creates efficiencies for everything from familiarity with machines by his operators and mechanics to storing spare parts.

“I think I am brand picky,” he said. “Besides looking out for my overall business, I’m an operator myself. I want stout machines that can handle demo work — but also run smooth. And in today’s world, I’m looking at the technology on the machines.”

After buying a Volvo EC480 HR high reach excavator a few years ago, Bair is going through the process of switching his entire fleet to Volvo machines.

“We were starting to bid on bridge demolitions that are larger and old, and the conventional ways of taking down stuff just wasn’t flying,” said Bair. “I knew a high reach was the machine that we needed.”

On the Job

The Volvo EC480 HR high reach excavator has played a critical role in the demolition of the I-70 bridge, which is 4,000 feet long and 70 feet wide. They’re using the machine to reach as high as 75 feet to bring the bridge down. They’ve used a shear attachment to cut diaphragms between the steel girders, which is faster and safer than other methods. They’ll also use a hoe ram attachment on the high reach to take down the tall piers.

Between that and the other work the excavators are doing on the project to remove the bridge deck, substructure and piers, the machines must be productive and efficient in demanding conditions.

“We’re doing demo, so we’re going to put the machine to its test,” Bair said. “You can’t always put the perfect machine on the job. Maybe there’s not enough room, so I take a smaller excavator to do something that, ideally, a bigger one should be doing. Is it going to withstand it? Am I going to tear it up? So, I’m looking at how tough the excavators are built.”

Watch the Greg Bair Track Hoe Service crew taking down the interstate bridge and see the Volvo high reach excavator in action.

Contractor Uses High Reach Excavator for Complicated Bridge Demolition

Greg Bair Track Hoe Service Inc. is demolishing a large bridge on I-70 connecting downtown Kansas City to the western suburbs. To help them get the job done, they’re using a high reach excavator for some of the most challenging aspects of the project.