Ground Frost Depth Could Cause Construction Headaches - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Ground Frost Depth Could Cause Construction Headaches

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  Spring is just two weeks away and that means more construction projects will be getting underway in the Quad Cities area. But winter's grips could continue to hold  causing problems for crews working with the ground. Frost depth is at a level some haven't dealt with before.

     Ground frost is 26 inches deep from Thursday's National Weather Service measurement in Mt. Joy. Some who work in the ground report up to 40 inches of frost in areas but it does depend on soil type and snow coverage. Either way dealing with frozen ground as deep as two to three feet could cost some crews time and expenses to get the work on a lot of local projects underway.

     Bret Chumbley, President of Anderson Commercial Concrete says that's not typical at all this time of year. But work is underway right now at the Riverbend Commons site in Moline where food, retail and office spaces will soon stand. It's a project Chumbley says is a bit behind schedule though, thanks to the harsh winter.

     "It has been a big thorn in our side this year. It's been tough for us and a lot of extra work," said Chumbley.

     Because of the deep ground frost his company had to rent an extra piece of equipment to get started - a ground thaw system. "It's like a big heater with rubber hose and we string that rubber hose on a pattern in the ground," said Chumbley.

     It heats up to about 180 degrees and pulling frost from the ground at a rate of about a foot in 24 hours. Crews go section by section and it can make for a lot of added time.

     "We continually are covering the ground we just thawed so the frost isn't penetrating down again."

     For pouring foundation, the building codes in this region call for footings to be placed at least 42 inches deep to avoid issues with frost in the future. Heavier machinery may also be brought in for excavation. It's an added expense for the developer or homeowner if it's new housing. Chumbley says it's hard to tell how long this will be an issue.

     "Just because it turns 50 degrees outside doesn't mean the frost is going to pop right out of the ground."

     The National Weather Service in Mt. Joy has only had it's frost gauge for a couple of years so there's not much to compare this year to but that 26 inches measured Thursday really hasn't changed much over the last few weeks.


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