It’s early in the morning when CCO Stanley “Bubba” Tillis and Oiler Will Mercado drive up to an open field in Myakka City. They unload the trucks. The first truck holds three pieces needed to assemble the 240-ton Grove All-Terrain Hydraulic Crane. The base weighing 26,000lbs comes in on its own truck. Atlas Construction is in charge of the project and has hired Sims Crane for the lift. Crews from both organizations are gathered to raise a 197 foot cell tower for T-Mobile.
In order for this to happen, it is assembled in four different sections. This means Tillis and Mercado must make constant adjustments to the boom of the crane to accommodate the height. To set the base the boom is raised 100 feet. Then the boom is extended 200 feet to add the second and third sections.
It is early afternoon before the last part of the pole is raised to crown the top of the structure. Before anything starts, Tillis runs the boom back in. Mercado and Tillis quickly hammer in the 43 foot jib and stretch out the boom. An Atlas Construction employee scaling the pegs on the tower looks more like a mountain climber, as he reaches the top. He’s harnessed in place and ready to receive the top section of the pole. He’s there to make sure the last section being raised by the crane is properly fitted over the third section of the tower. It’s not long before the 7,000lb section is rigged and ready for lifting. It’s slowly raised high into the air and swung over the employee waiting at the top. After a few tries, it’s finally put into place.
After this, workers prepare for the last part of the project, raising the base the antenna will sit on. Tillis takes a moment to explain a little more about which companies are going to be using the tower. “The anchor is going to be T-mobile. But then they’ll lease space on the tower. Eventually Verizon, AT& T and other carriers will be on it. They usually all get on the pole, but usually one company builds it. In this case, it’s T-Mobile.”