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Draper Journal

And it all (eventually) came tumbling down

Jan 05, 2023 11:32AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

The public was invited to usher in a new era at The Point by watching the demolition of one of the old prison towers on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Abatement of the site is underway with demolition of the buildings to follow. The event was also livestreamed. Speakers included The Point’s Executive Director Alan Matheson, former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Draper Mayor Troy Walker. 

Walker’s remarks were designed to mimic former President Ronald Reagan’s famous words to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 regarding the Berlin Wall. “Mr. Matheson, if you seek a place of economic opportunity…a new place for thousands of Utahns to work and live, then Mr. Matheson, tear down this prison,” Walker said.

The tower was engineered to fall away from the crowd, which it did, but not without delay. Initially, heavy equipment approached the tower at 10:29 a.m. and began chipping away at one base corner of the structure, then the other. Another large piece of equipment attempted to pull it over using a chain attached from the equipment to the tower, and a wrecking ball was also used. Crews continually re-evaluated how to safely get it to fall. It wasn’t until 11:45 a.m., more than an hour later, that it came crashing down to cheers from the crowd. 

Caleb Townes, senior project manager with Grant Mackay Demolition Company (the contractor selected to oversee demolition of the old prison buildings) explained, “We prepared the interior columns by cutting a portion of the main structural steel while still maintaining its structural integrity…to initiate the structure to fall in the direction we wanted by utilizing cables. When our team initiated the process of pulling the tower down with the cables, we did not see any flexing on the structure, so we stopped…to investigate….we concluded that we needed to remove a larger section of the exterior precast concrete panels to shift the weight of the structure in the direction we wanted. This took additional time but kept our team and the public safe.”