Demo crew begins tearing down old Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet

Ronald Freeman, a foreman/operating engineer for Brandenburg Industrial Service Company, the company doing the demolition, said they anticipate possibly being done before June. The actual demolition started last Friday and the crew members will be working eight hours a day, five days a week.

“You’re not constantly wrecking,” Freeman said about the process of demolishing the building. “You wreck a little bit and then you go in there with other machines to clean it up. You keep going. You wreck a little bit. You clean it up.”

The crews have various vehicles they’re using for the project, including one they call the “crusher” that is used to break down the reinforcement steel. It basically looks like a big, metal claw.

While the rain on Monday kept the ground muddy, Freeman said, it actually helped the process along.

“We like the rain,” Freeman said. “It keeps the dust down.”

Usually the crew just has a machine that shoots out water at the building so that the dust doesn’t become a problem for them and the surrounding community.

When the demolition was being planned, Silver Cross announced that the equipment work would not be louder than a garbage truck and there would be no implosions. Over 90 percent of the materials will be re-used as aggregate or scrap metal and once the site is cleared, there will be more than 20 acres of land available for redevelopment. The entire demolition site is fenced off and monitored by security 24/7.

The hospital building has been on the site since 1895 and was a 552,000-square-foot facility licensed for 304 beds. Silver Cross was unable to find a new user for the building since it moved to its current location in New Lenox.

Silver Cross is spending $4 million to tear down the old building.

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