News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 16, 2013

Cleanup ahead of schedule

Unexpected structures found at coke/carbon site

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Large concrete catch basins and a massive concrete train engine turnstile are among unexpected items found during cleanup excavation work on the former Terre Haute Coke and Carbon site at 13th and Hulman streets.

Pat Martin, chief planner for the city of Terre Haute, discussed the extra work needed to remove the concrete structures before the city’s Sanitary Board unanimously voted on Tuesday to increase funding by up to $600,000 for concrete removal.

Martin said the total funding needed will likely be closer to $150,000 to $200,000, but the extra approval was sought after huge concrete sites were discovered in the past month on the property.

The added concrete removal will still keep the project well below a project estimate of $7.1 million. The city has bonding up to $8.1 million for the project. The project was awarded for far less than that, at $5.6 million, Martin said.

City Engineer Chuck Ennis said removal of the concrete is important “as we don’t want to saddle any prospective buyers” with removal of the structures along a 20-acre site being excavated. Ennis said the added money is to cover any other unforeseen concrete structures.

“These are things that we did not know about, even though we had been all over the site poking holes everywhere and used ground-penetrating radar, which can’t see through certain things,” Martin told the Sanitary Board.

One other large area was a concrete foundation for a 120-foot tall smoke stack. Removal also included several pipes.

“This was rebar-reinforced concrete for the foundation. Also we uncovered a clarifier box area. It did not show up on aerial photos,” Martin said. Those photos were taken in the 1940s. The clarifiers acted like a sewer treatment site to clean outgoing water of coal tar and residues, he said.

One area was 300 feet long and five to six feet deep in concrete, Martin said. “It looked like an Olympic swimming pool,” he told the board. Excavation went down to 10 or 12 feet deep in some areas, Martin said, while another section went to about 18 feet deep.

Martin said the train turnstile was likely built for a steam locomotive. “It was a massive concrete structure,” he said.

The excavation/environmental cleanup is ahead of schedule, at 85 to 87 percent complete, Martin said, with the project expected to be completed within 30 days.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or