Marschel Wrecking Demolishes Old I-44 Meramec River Bridges
Going the Extra Mile: Hard-Working Equipment Makes for Smooth Demolition Work for Marschel Wrecking
The Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) $68 million Interstate 44 Meramec River Bridge Replacement Project requires demolition of four bridges. Marschel Wrecking of Fenton, Missouri, completed the first bridge and has three more to go.
“We were told [by the MDOT engineer] it was one of the best, well-rounded bridge demolitions they have done,” says Jeremy Frye, Project Manager for Marschel Wrecking. “From the equipment to the operators to the way it was done.”
The old bridges were built in the 1950s and needed significant renovation or replacement. The Missouri Department of Transportation made some minor renovations two years ago, but knew the work was a stopgap measure until it could secure funding for replacement.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded KCI Construction of St. Louis the contract to replace the bridge in June 2018. The new westbound bridge is being constructed between the existing westbound and eastbound bridges.
Once the new westbound span has been constructed over the Meramec River, all of the traffic will move to the new span and a second eastbound span will be built.
Marschel Wrecking, the demolition subcontractor, removed the old westbound overpass at Watson Road. The highway was shut down from Friday evening until Monday morning.
“We finished about 12 hours ahead of schedule, with traffic ready to open at 6 p.m. Sunday evening,” Frye says.
Marschel Wrecking will tear down the existing eastbound I-44 over the Meramec River, once the westbound span is completed. Then once both new bridges are opened to traffic, the company will demolish the existing westbound bridge over the river. Additionally, crews will tear down a small flyover ramp from I-44 to Watson Road.
On the westbound Watson Bridge, Marschel Wrecking used Caterpillar excavators with a combination of hammers, multiprocessors to crush the concrete and cut the rebar, and magnets to sort the rebar. Then the material was loaded into trucks and hauled away.
The Right Equipment is Paramount
“The Caterpillar straight booms are specially designed for demolition,” Frye says. “It has a straight boom and gives you a higher and longer reach. It has a higher carrying capacity.”
The straight boom Caterpillar 336 Excavators have a hydraulic system to run the tools and counter weights. Marschel Wrecking bought its first Caterpillar excavator in 2012 from Fabick Cat in Fenton, Missouri.
Fabick Cat has served Missouri and other states for more than 102 years, at first selling Cletrac Crawler Tractors and John Deere farm equipment. The company remains family-owned and -operated. Douglas Fabick, grandson of the founder, serves as CEO and Jeré Fabick as President. They are both dealer principals.
Marschel Wrecking has since purchased additional equipment as the company grew. Caterpillar machines comprise more than 90 percent of its fleet.
“We are working on getting the strays out of the system,” says Jason Marschel, Co-Owner with his wife, Joanne, of Marschel Wrecking.
In the past year, the company has purchased four straight boom Caterpillar 336 Excavators, which were used on the Watson Road overpass project.
“It’s a purposeful demolition machine,” says Greg Durst, Regional Sales Manager at Fabick Cat. “Those four are a large part of the U.S. population of that model. They are a relatively new product.”
Marschel Wrecking praised Fabick Cat’s service.
“When we need something, they are there,” Jason Marschel says. “Parts are there.”
Joanne Marschel adds, “It’s first-class service. We focus on demolition, that’s what we know. We rely on people like Fabick for good service and working together.”
“We have a great working relationship,” Durst adds. “They are super people to work with. They are very fair, honest and good business people, who have grown their business.”
Fabick Cat operates service shops, with 200 service bays, and offers field service to make repairs on the spot. The company employs field and shop technicians who work with the latest tools and technology to get equipment back into operation quickly.
“Marschel Wrecking has been a good customer,” Durst says. “They started the business about 13 years ago and built it from scratch.”
Building Off of Success
The Marschels began Marschel Wrecking in 2007 as an interior demolition contractor, with intentions to gradually develop an equipment division for structural and complete building demolition. Jason Marschel began his demolition career with another company in 1997.
As Marschel Wrecking grew and bought its first excavator, the company began accepting larger projects, building off each success. Marschel Wrecking continuously conducts risk assessments, allowing the company the ability to determine which projects it wants to pursue.
“We worked days, nights and weekends to keep work coming in, during the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009, with very thin margins,” recalls Jason Marschel. “In 2010, business started on an upward swing, and we have been growing ever since.”
The company has expanded to complete a broad spectrum of demolition jobs, including high-rise buildings and bridges. Projects vary from small jobs to large projects, mostly in the St. Louis metropolitan area and western Illinois. However, the company will travel the Midwest for established clients.
“We are now one of the largest demo contractors in the area,” Jason Marschel says.
Jason Marschel attributes much of the company’s success to its “valued employees who do what they say they are going to do, with a level of professionalism above the rest.”
Joanne Marschel reports that she feels fortunate the company has kept its core workforce through upturns and downturns, with limited turnover.
“From sales to office to field, our team does an exceptional job,” says Jason Marschel. “We keep good people employed by constantly keeping work in front of them.”
The company aims to bring projects on time or ahead of schedule, as it did with the Watson bridge demo.
“We strive to go the extra mile,” Jason Marschel says. “The extra steps we take help contribute to our success. Every day is a challenge, with extreme highs and extreme lows. When everything goes well, it makes the challenges worth all of the time and effort.”