Municipal Parking Garage

Manual concrete chipping can be a dusty, noisy endeavor that subjects workers to risks of injury and illness. When extensive overhead hammering is required on a job, such was the case when Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL Branch restored the City of Springfield's Municipal parking garage recently, the strain on the body can be even greater.

Western was hired by the general contractor on the project, O'Shea Builders of Springfield, IL, to perform overhead patching on the bottom two levels of the concrete parking garage and overhead patching on the helical ramps at the garage's west and east ends. Started in April 2017, the City of Springfield, IL expected the project be completed by the middle of December.

Western began the project using electric chipping hammers to remove the unsound concrete from overhead. This technique proved to be a challenge with crew members holding the hammer above their heads for eight hours a day, five days a week. As a result, production slowed on the project and the decision was made to utilize a PAM machine manufactured by RNP Industries.

The PAM machine safely holds the 30-pound hammer to completely eliminate the ergonomic stress on the worker. The equipment not only helped with the strain on the workers and mitigation of soft tissue injuries, but production increased and the project schedule was able to be maintained.

“At Western, we feel that it is critical for companies to evaluate opportunities to reduce these risks, and in doing so, we have discovered the alternative to manual chipping,” said Western Safety Director Eric Olson. “This machine offers faster and effortless concrete chipping for overhead and vertical surfaces. There is no longer a need to stop and reposition, recover or stretch sore muscles since the workers are not performing the work directly. It also allows workers to stand nearly five feet away from the point of impact so they are able to avoid unexpected falling concrete.”

With the project back on track and the crew working safely, Western hit another snag on the project. With the parking garage located in Downtown Springfield and directly adjacent to the Municipal Building and a busy hotel, the parking garage was at full capacity for most of the time.

Working closely with the general contractor on the project, it was determined that the safest and most effective way to perform the necessary repairs was to close the garage during repair of the ramps.

The garage closure came with an additional acceleration in the schedule. The ramps had to be re-opened and available for use within one month. To meet this deadline, an additional PAM machine was utilized so that both ramps could be repaired at the same time. A total of 1,350 square feet of overhead repairs were performed on the ramps in less than 30 days and the garage was re-opened on time.

In total, Western crews made 810 square feet of beam/joist/column repairs, 380 square feet of full-depth repairs and 70 square feet of partial-depth repairs, coated the top level ramps, and made a total of 963 patches and 4,700 square feet of overhead repairs. The project took a total of 250 days to complete.

The engineer on the project was Hanson Engineering and the architect was FWAI, both of Springfield, IL.


Glen Oak Towers

Glen Oak Towers is a housing building in Peoria, IL that gives preference to seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. Originally constructed in 1954, the 15-story masonry structure and its attached 40-space parking garage were showing signs of deterioration and corrosion of the concrete surfaces, as well as weathering from salts and deicers brought into the garage from outside vehicles. Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL branch recently completed restoration of both structures, as two separate projects.

For the first project, Western crews restored the parking structure, located on the back side of the building. With the garage's main level and its suspended deck completely enclosed, the total floor space per level was approximately 10,000 square feet.

The garage exhibited extensive damage to its concrete decking in the form of spalling and cracking, and corrosion to its structural concrete members. Western crews performed approximately 3,100 square feet of full-depth concrete repairs (30% of the suspended deck), 550 lineal feet of structural joist repairs, 55 lineal feet of structural beam repairs, removal of 1,500 square feet of asphalt topping on the upper level and installation 825 lineal feet of gravity-fed epoxy injection.

Western crews installed shoring to support the concrete areas that were not to be removed during the restoration process. The shoring also acted as the support framework for the form work and false floor that had to be used for fall protection.

In order to keep the garage operable for tenants, Western crews performed the garage repairs in three phases. In the first phase, new concrete was installed using a concrete pump. In the second and third phases, new concrete was placed using a concrete buggy to move material through the garage. Once the concrete repairs were completed, Western crews applied a two-component, fast-cure traffic membrane on the elevated parking level.

The garage restoration project started in December, 2015 and was completed in four months.

For the second project, Western crews performed masonry restoration on the building's challenging facade. Crews performed necessary tuckpointing throughout the building and replaced over 5,000 spalled and broken bricks, which were mainly at the shelf angles. Western crews also installed new weeps along all of the shelf angles to allow water that may have penetrated the wall to drain out. Workers then re-sealed all of the shelf angles with a silicone sealant. Western crews also sealed around all newly installed windows, using a Dow Corning silicone sealant.

Due to the building having a lot of ins and outs, Western crews were required to change the sizes of the swing stages often during the masonry restoration project.

“Access was difficult since there were lower roof areas that were not connected all the way around, so we had to move the stages up and down off the roof levels as we went around the entire building,” said Western Springfield, IL Branch Manager Scott Haas. “Roof anchors needed to be installed in order to tie back the swing stages properly.”

The facade restoration project was completed in October, 2016.


Illinois National Bank

Historic restoration experts Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL Branch recently completed a two-month project to repair the limestone base of landmark Illinois National Bank (INB) in Springfield, IL.


Located in the city's prominent historical section, just blocks from President Abraham Lincoln's home and the Old State Capitol, the building's limestone base had deteriorated over time due to age, weathering and salts/deicers applied to the concrete sidewalks and streets adjacent to the building.


Bank owners contacted Western Specialty Contractors directly to make the needed repairs and maintain the building's historical integrity. Western consulted on the project with Cathedral Stone, a nationwide manufacturer of limestone and brick masonry restoration materials.


“After in-depth discussions with all parties about replacing the limestone pieces versus restoration patching, it was decided that the deteriorated limestone would be patched with limestone repair mortar Jahn M70 manufactured by Cathedral Stone,” said Scott Haas, Western Springfield, IL Branch Manager. “This restoration technique made more sense than replacing the limestone, which would have required removal and reinstallation of some windows in order to replace some of the stones.”


Before any materials were ordered for the project, restoration experts with Western and Cathedral Stone performed onsite mockups of the patch material to determine a custom-designed mix ratio to match the existing limestone as closely as possible. The craftsmen utilized on the project were Jahn Certified Installers, trained by Cathedral Stone in the use of their materials.


The first step in restoring the limestone was to remove the loose and deteriorated limestone back to a depth needed to reach a sound and solid surface. Crews used light-duty electric hammers to accomplish this task.


Western's craftsmen then custom-mixed the Jahn M70 restoration mortar and patched the cavities by hand. The limestone pieces were unique in shape and ornament, so matching the existing profile as closely as possible was of high importance.


“The repair material was over-filled, which allowed it to set to the necessary state,” said Haas. “Then we shaved and carved the pieces manually to match the existing limestone.”


Bank officials were pleased with Western's attention to detail and efforts to preserve the building's historical integrity.


“Our building is almost 100 years old. Over our years of ownership, we've tried to maintain its original integrity, and the work done by Western's staff helps assure we can do this going forward as well. We appreciate the tenacity of the local crew that spent many hot summer days on our sidewalks perfecting their work,” said Tom Gihl, INB executive vice president and chief operating officer.


Abraham Lincoln Receiving Vault

Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL Branch was recently honored with restoring the historic receiving vault that once held the bodies of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln and his son, Willie, following Lincoln's funeral service on May 4, 1865 in Springfield, Illinois. The bodies of Lincoln and his son, who died at age eleven in the White House, rested in the receiving vault until Dec. 21, 1865 when they were moved to another temporary vault.


The vault, which had served as a temporary tomb while burial plans were made or if a grave could not be dug due to frozen ground, is located at the base of a hill, north of President Lincoln's tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Due to its location at a low spot in the cemetery, the vault was subject to water penetration which resulted in major deterioration. The vault's restoration needed to be completed in time for a two-day ceremony on May 2-3, 2015 to re-enact and commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's funeral.


Western Specialty Contractors, partnered with project engineer Coombe-Bloxdorf, a Division of Fehr-Graham & Associates, began the five-month restoration project on Dec. 1, 2014.


The initial phase of the project involved channeling water away from the vault with the installation of drains. Once that task was completed, the general contractor began excavating the area around the vault in preparation for Western's scope of work which included waterproofing, repairs to the stone facade, and restoration of the vault's marble interior.


Constructed in the 1860's using outdated materials and technology, Western crews encountered more extensive deterioration to the vault than they had originally anticipated. During the excavation around the outside of the historic site, it was discovered that the walls making up the vault's exterior were in such poor condition (bricks were deteriorating, voids were present in the masonry wall, and stone infill had been used) that waterproofing could not be applied directly to the surface, and an alternate means of repair was necessary to prepare the vault for the waterproofing application.


Western crews used their extensive experience in historic restoration to find a solution to the challenge.


“Because this was a historic site, the customer did not want us using a lot of new means and methods to restore it,” said Springfield Project Manager Josh Woolard. “We had to come up with a scope of work that would repair the walls without compromising the integrity of the historic structure. We formulated a system using a low cement ratio mortar and brick infill in areas where the brick had deteriorated away from the wall. After infilling the voids in the walls, we applied a layer of the low cement ratio mortar to the entire wall surface to create a smooth surface with no protrusions that could penetrate through the bentonite sheet waterproofing.”


Another challenge to the project was finding a quality match for the stone replacements on the serpentine retaining walls that extended outward away from the vault entrance. Due to the age of the vault, the original stone material used was no longer available, and Western crews had to find a suitable, alternate material that would closely match the existing stones and meet the customer's needs. Many mock-ups of stone fabrication were required to find the perfect match.


“These walls contain two curves, one inward and one outward. Due to this fact, it was not only a matter of finding the correct length and depth of the stone, but also finding the radius of the curves in order to fabricate stone that would fit into the voids created by the removal of the stones,” said Woolard. “In order to find the radius in the stone, we had to remove the existing stone. By first creating a template on Styrofoam of the gaps created by the removal of the stones, we were able to use computer software to find the radius of the curves within the wall.”


Western also used other special methods to re-create the unique beaded joint evident in the original masonry construction.


“Unlike most joints in masonry construction, these joints were not concave or flat joints. Instead, they were beaded joints within the masonry. In order to achieve this effect, we used special tools and procedures which allowed the mortar to hold its shape while it was formed. This process provided a less workable material and was more time consuming for even small amounts of tuck pointing, but the end result is a structurally-sound, historical replication of how the vault was originally constructed,” said Woolard.


Western crews completed their restoration work by carefully cleaning the tile floor and marble walls and ceiling inside the vault chamber using Prosoco 942 cleaner with a low pressure rinse. Additionally, crews re-attached two marble doors on the loculi, or shelves set into the wall of the vault where a coffin or body is stored.


The restoration project was completed on May 1, 2015 in time for the commemoration and funeral reenactment ceremonies. Western took great care in respectfully preserving not only the look of the receiving vault, but also the method by which it was originally constructed. With the restoration process in place, the historic vault is now preserved for future generations to treasure and appreciate.



OSF North Parking Structure

Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, Illinois Branch completed a six-month project in October to reconfigure the 7-level parking garage at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL. Updates were needed to the post-tension parking garage to improve its parking experience and traffic flow.

Walker Restoration designed the repairs and developed phasing plans for the repair sequence to accomplish the work. The general contractor on the project, P.J. Hoerr of Peoria, IL, contracted with Western Specialty Contractors to apply caulking, water repellents and a traffic-bearing membrane to the parking decks. Over the course of the six-month project, Western sealed a total of 191,500 square feet of bare concrete with a penetrating water repellent, applied 100,000 square feet of waterproof urethane traffic coating, and removed nearly 40,000 lineal feet of traffic markings.

Hospital officials allowed for a certain number of parking spaces to be closed during each phase of the work, with the garage remaining in full-use throughout the project. P.J. Hoerr worked closely with hospital officials to coordinate a phasing plan that included a total of 14 separate work phases as the project progressed throughout the garage. The general contractor used barricading and temporary signage to direct traffic around the phased closures.

Originally, portions of the parking decks had been coated with a urethane traffic coating, while other portions were left bare. At the exposed concrete surfaces, Western's workers removed existing traffic markings and striping by utilizing a combination of shot-blasting and hand-grinding. After the existing markings were removed, Western crews sealed the exposed concrete surfaces with a 100% silane, clear penetrating water repellent to reduce the infiltration of hazardous salts, de-icers and other harmful chemicals. At surfaces already coated with a urethane traffic coating, Western crews shot-blasted the existing traffic markings and installed a new top coat to cover the old markings.

The staircase and drive lanes between the parking stalls, which exhibited bare concrete areas and a worn coating system due to consistent traffic, were also shot-blasted and re-coated by Western crews to further protect and waterproof the structure.

P.J. Hoerr crews completed the project by applying new traffic markings and garage signage, among other finishing work.


World War II Veterans Memorial Globe

Springfield, IL

Honoring the lives of those who served in the U.S. military with monuments and memorials is a time-honored tradition. Ensuring that those monuments are kept in pristine condition for the lives they represent is a Western Specialty Contractors priority.

The Springfield, Illinois branch of Western Specialty Contractors recently completed a project to restore the World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial Globe in Springfield's historic Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is also home to President Abraham Lincoln's tomb and vault.

The Globe, designed by artist Dan Nardi, was constructed in 2004 by pouring concrete into molds to create the details of raised continents and oceans. Numbered stainless steel pins are inserted into the Globe to indicate the locations of World War II battles. Black granite walls, inscribed with the names of the battles that correlate to the pin locations, flank two sides of the memorial.

The exterior of the Globe was showing signs of wear, with cracking and spalling concrete evident near the top of the memorial. A protective coating previously applied to the Globe was also flaking off.

Western was selected as the preferred contractor by the World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial Board to repair and re-coat their memorial Globe. Western had successfully completed a number of memorial restoration projects for the organization in the past.

The restoration project began with Western crews erecting scaffolding around the Globe, covering it with netting to contain any debris and protect it from further exposure while repairs were being made. Pictures, along with chalks of the memorial's shape, were taken prior to any demo work to ensure that all the pieces were put back in their exact locations.

Crews began by saw-cutting the damaged areas and repairing them with a polymer-modified concrete repair mortar. The shapes of the continents and the Globe's longitude and latitude lines were reformed and finished, under the watchful eye of the artist, to match the existing profile.

Once the repairs were complete, Western crews covered all of the stainless steel buttons and began wet-abrasive blasting the Globe's surface to remove any remaining coating and provide profiling for the new coating. Any small pockets that showed following the prep work were filled-in to make the surface smooth.

After the surface had dried, Western applied a Sherwin Williams Loxon Concrete Primer and two coats of ConFlex XL Elastomeric Coating in flat white to match the original color.

“It was challenging working on a round object, which was made easier with the use of scaffolding,” said Springfield Branch Manager Scott Haas. “We wanted to ensure that we kept the shape, profile and layout of the Globe exactly as the artist had intended. Taking our time through planning, chalks and pictures enabled us to accomplish that goal. It was an honor to be chosen to work on this project. Through our efforts, this memorial will be protected and looking beautiful for many more years to come for people to visit and enjoy.”

The World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial is a non-profit organization that relies on donations to maintain its memorials and fund its yearly scholarship. For more information, visit