Northbound view of the New York State Thruway (I-87) near exit 23.
If you travel on the 7.8-mile-long stretch of the Thruway between Exit 23 and Exit 24 then you’ve noticed the major construction project underway.
What you may not have known, however, is that the Lafarge Ravena plant is the exclusive supplier of cement for the reconstruction and expansion project that’s creating additional lanes in this high-volume section of the interstate superhighway.
Southbound view of the New York State Thruway (I-87) near exit 23.
According to the New York State Thruway Authority, the $99.7 million rehab that began in March 2011 is one of the Albany-area’s single largest construction projects. When complete, the existing 1950’s pavement will be replaced and a third lane for traffic will be added on the north and southbound lanes to help ease frequent traffic congestion.
We will be supplying 30,000 tons of cement for the massive undertaking which is expected to be finished in 2013.
Other major projects in the area that used our cement include the Global Foundries facility in Malta, New York and Hudson Valley Community College’s “Joe Bruno” Stadium located in Troy, New York.
We’re excited to be a part of this major improvement to the area.
We’re proud when our cement can be a part of a noteworthy project. But when we learned that we were awarded the AMD computer chip plant in Malta, and One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, everyone at the plant was thrilled.
Both projects are hugely significant, and for important reasons beyond their exceptional size. The AMD computer chip plant will be built with concrete that will help qualify it for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) registration with the United States Green Building Council, while the World Trade Center represents a powerful symbol of recovery and renewal after the disastrous 9/11 attacks.
The 200-acre AMD computer chip plant (“chip-fab”) 30 miles north of Albany will employ more than 1,500 workers directly and stimulate the employment of an estimated 5,000 additional workers indirectly. Bonded Concrete of Watervliet is supplying concrete to build the plant. The company has already installed a portable concrete batch plant on-site and has selected Portland cement from Lafarge as a component in a custom concrete mix that will be used for the project. The builders of the chip-fab chose concrete for its thermal mass, which facilitates heating and cooling, and for its superior qualities in sound-insulation, water run-off control and lighting efficiency, due to reflectivity. In addition to achieving these important environmental advantages, Bonded Concrete also chose Lafarge due to its location just 40 miles from the project. This limits transportation costs, impacts on local roads and airborne emissions from trucks transporting the cement from Lafarge to the project site.
At One World Trade Center, Lafarge is supplying cement for both the high-rise Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center Memorial Building and site. The foundation of the tower will utilize 20,000 cubic yards (CY) of concrete, and the building itself will use 120,000 CY of high-strength, low-heat-mass concrete. Exposed concrete walls will be a major architectural feature of the memorial and its site, with 15,000 CY of concrete used for the foundation and 50,000 CY for the structure.
Did you know that Lafarge Ravena located here in the Capital Region produces some of the highest quality cement in the world?
Part of it has to do with the materials we use, but an equally important factor is the people who work here.
Here’s an interview with one of our employees responsible for making sure our cement meets the strictest of standards before being shipped. Bernadetta Montgomery works as a technician in our quality assurance lab but, according to her, she has a lot in common with people who drive limos for a living.
Employee Profile: Bernadetta Montgomery
Cement production takes more than massive machinery, stone and highly skilled manpower. Lafarge Ravena has that “more” part down to a science.
Bernadetta Montgomery works as a lab technician in Lafarge Ravena’s quality assurance lab, performing chemical analyses of the cement, clinker, raw materials and fuel, and testing cement and masonry.
“We’re the gate keepers,” Bernadetta said. “We certify that [what we test] passes ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for release to the public. If materials don’t pass, we say ‘No, they can’t ship.’”
A graduate of the Technical School of Chemistry in Krakow, Poland, Bernadetta came to the United States in 1988.
Before joining Lafarge Ravena, she worked for Callanan Industries Inc. (formerly King Roads Materials) in Schenectady; six years as a lab tech and five years in the sales office. She took a break from science to raise two children, but she missed lab work terribly. When she heard about an opportunity at Lafarge, she got out from behind a desk and back into the lab.
Bernadetta said the most challenging and rewarding part of her job is proficiency samples testing, a way for labs to monitor their own testing accuracy between Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory (CCRL) on-site assessments. Specified tests are performed on two samples, and the results are reported to the CCRL for review and evaluation. The last two samples the Lafarge lab sent both scored 100%. She said, “Proficiency tests add spice to my work when the daily testing becomes routine.”
She enjoys the whole hands-on lab experience. “The more tests you run, the more accurate your technique becomes,” she said. “Your precision increases – that’s the ultimate goal – and you gain a high level of confidence in your results. The equipment and chemicals have to be up to par, and so does the technician.”
Bernadetta lives in Niskayuna with her husband Jason and their son Michael, 14, and daughter Michelle, 16. Her daughter’s volleyball tournaments and son’s avid snowboarding keep her busy as “an ATM and a limo driver” she warmly added, though she misses the volunteer work she did before her children were born.
“I get a lot of enjoyment and fulfillment, doing what I do,” she said of her work at Lafarge. “You are up to your ears in chemistry, and you can assist people who don’t have lab expertise, guide them, and give advice on production to produce a product with quality that is above that of our competition.” She said proudly, “Our work in the lab has a positive impact on the product, the plant, the company and the community as a whole.”
Ever wonder how cement is made? Maybe you’ve heard about our exciting plans to modernize our Ravena cement plant?
Well here’s a video that takes you on a tour of the cement-making process at a different Lafarge cement plant using newer dry-kiln technology. It’s the same technology we’re proposing for the Ravena plant in our modernization project. Click here for more information on that — now, to the video…