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UDOT Is Using A New Machine Which Uses Water To Demolish Concrete

Aimee Cobabe

A construction project in Salt Lake County is utilizing an innovative new machine which uses water to demolish concrete.

Oanh Le-Spradlin, project manager for the I-215 reconstruction, described what a hydro-demolition machine looks like. 

“It looks very deceptive. It looks like someone operating a giant carpet cleaner—for lack of a better description," Le-Spradlin said.

The hydro demolition machine uses high-pressure water jets to demolish the top three to four inches of a surface. It eliminates the potential for structural damage which sometimes happens with jackhammers. The machine uses 36,000 PSI - 24 times more powerful than your average home washer.

According to Le-Spradlin, this machine is also quicker than traditional demolition methods and it reduces dust.

“This is one of the safest techniques there is out there," Le-Spradlin said. "There’s very little needed. There’s very few workers—one man can manage the whole operation. And really, everything is automated. It’s very precise. The water is safe and it’s very controlled.”

The used water and broken-up concrete is gathered by a large vacuum. Later, the water is recycled back into the water supply and the concrete is reused in future construction projects.

Le-Spradlin said this construction project will add 15 more years of use to the bridge.

“This project, it’s much needed by the western Salt Lake County area here," Le-Spradlin said. "We’re reconstructing the pavement to give new life to it because it’s been over 40 years and we haven’t done anything—it’s much needed.”