Queen City Tower construction workers deal with the bitter cold

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Progress on the new Queen City Tower is right on schedule, despite the bone-chilling cold workers are facing from the ground-level to the top floor.

FOX19 went along with workers on a ride 25 floors up. After only a few minutes, you feel like your face is frozen and your hands stiffen up. And for the hundreds of construction workers, that's life for the rest of the winter.

It is a cold, cruel climb up 25 floors, where the walls are wide open and the wind is unforgiving.

"This is some of the payback for some of those 85-degree days in September," said Bob Grace with the Turner Construction Company, who is building the massive tower.

Inside the elevator, there is a small heater working and workers can get a bit of a wind break from some of the plexiglass windows inside it, otherwise, once they step-out onto the 25th floor, wind chills can drop to ten below zero.

"It's a little breezy, a little breezy," said Scott Propes, who was bundled-up from head to toe. "Ya' gotta do it no matter what. Gotta layer up, keep everything covered."

"For the most part it's pretty tough sledding for these guys right now," Grace said. "But you can't stop a project just because it gets cold, so they're out here in the elements."

"You've got to cover everything up or it'll freeze," Propes said. "Ya gotta work harder to stay warmer."

"Typically it's been going up almost a floor a week," Grace said.

There are 41 floors above ground and three below. That's 44 floors total in the last 50 weeks, since January 17, 2009. Even pouring concrete is a different job than it was just a month ago.

"We'll pour a slab like we're standing on now at the end of the day," Grace said. "That'll all get covered-up with insulating blankets."

Then workers will add heat. Next time you drive by, look-up. There are entire floors wrapped in white tarps.

"Those particular floors would be up to 45-50 degrees just to make sure that concrete doesn't freeze and then you'd keep the top surface covered with blankets until it cures out," Grace said.

And it keeps on curing another couple of months until it reaches it's full strength. Plus, there are beautiful vistas from all sides, including Great American Ball Park.

"When you get to the top, you can see everything, almost the entire field," Grace said. "I don't quite know we can see third baseline yet, but we'll see when we get a couple more floors up."

Most of the crown or "tiara" as it's been referred to, for the top of the building, is already made and is sitting off-site. They've got about six more weeks to finish that. But since it is mainly ornamental, it's not the kind of thing they want to install in cold, windy weather. That will happen when it's much, much warmer, they expect late-Spring to Summer.

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