Full Speed Ahead
That portable flexibility was put to the test last spring when Rasmussen assigned the plant to recycling duty at the Simi Valley Freeway project. The $45 million lane-widening project involved redevelopment of the center divider, adding extra lanes in both directions, erecting sound walls, and expanding four bridges along the 5-mile stretch to accommodate the upgrades. Throughout the course of demolition and site prep, thousands of tons of concrete and asphalt waste were stockpiled in the median of the freeway between two fast lanes of traffic.
“We had basically created a kind of conical elongated pile of rubble 1,000 feet long, running down the center of traffic moving 75 miles per hour in both directions just on the other side of the K-rail,” MacDonald says. “We had exactly 60 feet of right of way in which to work.” During a 22-day span, Rasmussen crushed about 27,000 tons of asphalt and concrete to put back down in the project as base.
Portability served the contractor well. “Every so often, as we chewed our way through the 1,000-foot pile, it would become economically better to move the plant to the face of the pile, rather than run the loaders back and forth to the plant,” he adds. “With the ease of take down and set up, we were able to pick up and move and be crushing again in about four hours.”
Efficient relocation was not the only benefit offered by the system. “We had the entire plant running in the median, crushing and screening product,” MacDonald says. “And not once did we receive a citation for dust, or a rock through a window, or anything. With 300,000 plus cars passing us every day, it couldn’t have been tidier. Safety was crucial to this project.” Despite tight quarters and strict operational regulations, the plant never threw a rock or interfered with the traffic.
With that task quite successfully accomplished, the plants were moved back to the quarry for more hard rock production. But this is not currently a friendly economy, and that toll has certainly had an affect on how Rasmussen manages its business. “There is considerably less aggregate consumption right now because of the housing downturn,” MacDonald says. “We used to send most of our product to private road and street development. But now we crush to maintain inventory mostly for the public works projects.”
MacDonald admits that this cycle is certainly challenging, but after 40 years in the business, an economic downturn is definitely nothing new. “This is probably the third cycle like this I’ve been through, though this one is an interesting one,” he says. “We’re finding that there are still plenty of projects to bid on, but it’s a very competitive process because so many more firms are bidding on them – a number of which seem to have come out of nowhere.”
Regardless, Rasmussen is obviously here to stay, and some shrewd planning and smart decision making will only make this firm stronger. It recently bought a second track-mounted screen plant so the quarry can continue to screen natural product while the crushing plant is out on recycling assignments. And the opportunity to establish a few more satellite dumping sites is being pursued. “There’s plenty of opportunity to be had still, even in this economy,” MacDonald says.
No matter the challenge, C.A. Rasmussen, Inc. will always be in the middle of the aggregate industry in Southern California. “We love it. We love the people, we like seeing a project go from a piece of paper to a finished mode of transportation, and we like the challenges you get thrown,” MacDonald says. “It’s a great business. Certainly not without its cycles, but we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
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