Queen Lane Apartments implosion part of PHA’s ongoing citywide initiative [video]

 The Queen Lane Apartments tower, as reflected in the windows of nearby Mt. Moriah Church. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

The Queen Lane Apartments tower, as reflected in the windows of nearby Mt. Moriah Church. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

The Sept. 13 demolition of the Queen Lane Apartments will be one in a long line of landscape-changing actions by the Philadelphia Housing Authority to replace an aging, obsolete, affordable-housing design.

The PHA has imploded 22 buildings at seven sites over the years. The 16-story high-rise built in the 1950s on West Queen Lane will be the eighth site.

According to PHA spokesperson Nichole Tillman, after the Queen Lane implosion, the authority will still have eight high-rise sites containing 16 buildings with 1,880 residential units.

Site preps

The PHA issued a 90-day notice to the residents of the Queen Lane Apartments back on Aug. 19, 2011, and the relocation of 116 families began a week later.

All the residents were relocated, with moving assistance provided by PHA, by Nov. 23, 2011, Tillman said.

Helming implosion efforts is Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI), which has led the demolition of hundreds of similar buildings over the past 50 years.

The process for the Queen Lane demolition will follow procedures in place at many of the previous sites.

Surveys are conducted by CDI engineers in the neighborhood before the implosion to determine conditions of buildings surrounding the site.

The engineers look for cracks in foundations and walls, and broken windows, before the blast occurs. They will take photos and video of the pre-existing conditions in the area.

To prepare a building for implosion, CDI removes some non-load-bearing partitions, walls and other supports on floors where explosives will be placed.

Small amounts of dynamite are placed into columns on different levels of the building. When they are detonated, the charges disrupt the columns and cause the building to lean and then fall in a predetermined area.

The blast

The implosion itself will last a matter of seconds.

The dust cloud that results can linger for four to seven minutes, according to CDI.

Clean-up crews normally work for several hours before surrounding streets are reopened to traffic.

Residents in the evacuation zone are asked to make arrangements to stay with family or shelter in the comfort center at Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School, 201 E. Salaignac St., until the Police Department and the Department of Health’s Air Management Services determine that the area is clear and safe.

Residents can call the Queen Lane Implosion Hotline at (215) 684-3001 to learn when it is safe to return home.

Residents in the evacuation and dust zones are also asked to move their cars off the street to expedite clean-up efforts. Residents in the dust zone may leave vehicles in the driveway or garage.

Those who live in the evacuation zone should take their pets with them when they leave. Pets in the dust zone should be kept inside on the day of the implosion.

Dust from the implosion is not expected to harm gardens or plants in the neighborhood.

The PHA will exterminate the high-rise building before the implosion.

If residents experience rodent problems after the demolition, they should contact the Department of Public Health’s Rat Complaint Line at (215) 685-9000, or call 311.

PHA will host another community meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 5333 Pulaski Ave., to report on progress and next steps in the demolition process.

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