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Sand trap
Workers will disassemble a 150-ton excavator to free it from grip of sea and sand in Avalon


By BRIAN IANIERI Staff Writer, (609) 463-6713
Published: Thursday, March 30, 2006
Updated: Thursday, March 30, 2006


AVALON ? As the tide crept closer and closer, workers tried Wednesday to free a 150-ton piece of construction equipment from a 12-foot-deep crater on the beach at Townsends Inlet.

Like an outstretched hand clasping a ledge, an excavator's gigantic mechanical arm tried to push its heavy metal body from the crater.

The trouble started Tuesday afternoon when the huge machine ? worth about $1.2. million new ? began to sink into the sand.

The excavator was being used to build a new rock seawall. The area where they are working was a late addition made by the Army Corps of Engineers to its plans. The ground there had not been tested to see if it would withstand the weight of the excavator.

Unable to extricate the machine Tuesday, workers left it there overnight. At high tide, seawater filled the hole.

During low tide Wednesday, workers repaired the engine in the hope that with the help of some earth movers, they could free the behemoth.

The spectacle drew dozens of onlookers, but one common sentiment: There is no way they're going to get that thing out of there.

?They'll never get it out,? said John Peltier, of Sea Isle City.

And they didn't.

As high tide approached, salt water trickled and then streamed into the crater, made wider and deeper in the attempts to free it. Workers piled makeshift dunes on the beach to keep the water at bay.

By Wednesday afternoon, nature had won ? again.

The machine was just one outstretched mechanical arm in a sandy pool of brown-gray water. Its wheels, body and cab were submerged.

?It wasn't a good day,? said Alex Dick, the project manager for Jay Cashman Inc., which has been constructing a seawall in Avalon's northern end.

?The soil just wasn't suited to support a machine like this,? he said.

An Army Corps spokesman could not be reached Wednesday night.

Avalon Public Works Director Harry deButts said the project was on schedule to finish by mid-April.

?This is really a tough nut,? he said.

Marvin Leonard, a retired construction supervisor who lives in Avalon, spent Wednesday afternoon looking through binoculars from his minivan, parked by the toll bridge on Ocean Drive.

?If they get the lift working, they can push that up in the air ? I don't know. They ain't moving it yet,? he said.

?Each time the tide comes in, she'll sink more.?

Avalon and Cashman officials said nobody was injured when the excavator began to sink Tuesday. The fuel inside was contained and there was no environmental damage, they said.

But the machine?

That's a different story.

Dick said they will have to disassemble the excavator ? including its bucket and counterweight ? to remove it from the beach.

?In this business, you can expect the unexpected,? Dick said.

To e-mail Brian Ianieri at The Press:

[email protected]



Photo's Courtesy of Member Silentpete, Thx.

[ 03-31-2006, 11:40 AM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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The picture of the excavator was very impressive I thought the bucket was the body until I looked closer. That project just got a lot more expensive.
 

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i work like that everyday and never saw anything like that .how did they do that?? was fun seeing it today in the paper, had a good laugh.,matt
 

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Don't they have Sea Tow?
 

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I went past there yesterday afternoon around 2:00 pm and they werent close to getting it out...what a mess.... :( :rolleyes:

[ 03-31-2006, 10:12 AM: Message edited by: med ]
 

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Word this morning is that they will have to dis-assemble the thing in order to get it out. Wonder what shape it will be in once they are done.
Its amazing what the continious tides and sand shifting can do to steel. I once saw a older full size Chevy Blazer get stuck and buried in the surf and by the time they got it out (2-3days) it was the size of a tin can so to speak.

[ 03-31-2006, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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Toolguy73...nah...if they had Sea Tow I would have already pulled them out...

No job too big or too small... This one would have been a challenge for a Shamrock...might have had to call in a bigger boat!!!!

[ 03-31-2006, 07:03 PM: Message edited by: Capt. Scott ]
 

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It's gonna take one very large crane to get it out of there if it ever happens at all. That was the only way that they could get that goofball Brian Gallagher's machine out when he sunk it in the meadow out by the big bridge a few years ago. That sod bank is now destroyed as a result of that fiasco. Already had one person get thier vehicle stuck in that location this spring further damaging the bank. For those who would try to pull your truck out there to park, here's a little tip... Park under the bridge and walk the 50 yards to what's left of the bank. The meadow is not a parking lot!!! It's amazing how clueless some people can be.
 

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I remember seeing that machine on the meadow,one day it was there next day it was half gone
 

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the yahoo shouldn't have tied up there in the first place. he sunk his tug first!! then buried the machine trying to right the tug !!!!

it was an experience watching them guys !!!! if i recall it took them 2 weeks too get that mess out of there.

[ 04-02-2006, 09:55 AM: Message edited by: chipmunk ]
 

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Chipmunk, It went the other way around. First goofball was loading his machine either onto or off of his barge when it began to sink. (Or maybe it was the barge was stuck and he was trying to push it back into the water.) He tried to pull himself out with the bucket with the only result being that he tore up the surrounding marsh while every movement sunk the machine further.There were flood tides at the time making matters worse when his barge that he left carelessly moored there swung up onto the meadow and got stuck as well.Then came the pushboat that he then left moored there in the same fashion and when the tide went out the hull became stuck in the mud.Tide came back in and swallowed the boat that was stuck in the mud at an angle and could not rise with the tide. It's not like this all happened in a short period of time. This took several days to a week.
I can't tell you how many phone calls I made on my cell trying to get "someone" to get involved to stop what was happening to no avail.
Avalon police,Avalon Mayor(thought surely Marty would help), Middle Township police, State police, Marine police, Coast Guard, NJ DEP, Bradley Cambell :rolleyes: . Not one was willing to get involved. He was left to his own devices to get it all out and subsequently destroyed that piece of sodbank forever. It was a tough thing to watch happen while being helpless to do anything about it.

Not to worry on this one though...as you can see in the pics, the "carefully placed" floating boom is no doubt doing the job containing the diesel feul as they said in the article. :rolleyes:

[ 04-02-2006, 11:00 AM: Message edited by: Keeper Seeker ]
 
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