HANNIBAL – With the new Champ Clark Bridge now open to traffic on August 3 on U.S. Route 54 over the Mississippi River, demolition of the historic, 1928 bridge was inevitable. While Massman Construction Company has been full speed ahead with deck removal of the old bridge, a more audible and visible phase of the demolition will include blasts. The first pair of truss spans is expected to be dropped into the Mississippi Friday, October 18 at approximately 9 a.m., with the second pair to follow approximately two weeks later. “We have a good idea of when the blasts will occur; however, these are not typically a set time but rather a window, as many details need to be carried out and the situation must be perfect to ensure safety,” stated Missouri Department of Transportation Project Director Keith Killen. While 9 a.m. is the planned blast time, a lot of preparation has to occur to ensure everyone’s safety, so it could be delayed.
The first blasts will be on the Missouri side. “Massman will have people stationed around the perimeter of the safe area to keep people from encroaching in the safe area,” Killen said. Unfortunately, most of the Missouri side of the riverfront is included in this safe area. “We will work with the City of Louisiana to set up signs and traffic control to limit where onlookers can safely watch the blasts,” Killen added. The demolition blasts will be available to view live on the MoDOT Northeast District Facebook page.
Once truss spans 2 and 3 on the Missouri side have been dropped, Massman will have a limited time frame to retrieve all debris from the Mississippi River in order to safely re-open the river to commercial barge and private boat traffic. The new bridge will temporarily close, possibly up to 45 minutes, as a safety precaution during each blast.
The next phase will include dropping truss spans 4 and 5 on the Illinois side, leaving the final span over the railroad to be dismantled later. This will also be available to view live on the MoDOT Northeast District Facebook page.
Work will then begin on the removal of the piers above the water level. “This phase will not utilize explosive blasting,” said Killen. “Massman has chosen to jackhammer the existing piers to prevent possible damage to the new bridge,” Killen added.
After the removal of the above-surface piers has been accomplished, work will move below the water surface. “The remaining pier sections will be strategically drilled in order to allow for the placement of explosives prior to blasting,” Killen explained. He noted blasting of the piers would not be as dramatic as detonation of the truss spans. All resulting debris will be removed from the river bed including any debris larger than about the size of a football.
Join Massman Construction Company and the entire Champ Clark Bridge team for the final monthly project update meeting being held Saturday, October 26 at 10 a.m. in Riverview Park in Louisiana. Project updates and additional information about the project can be found at the Champ Clark Bridge website, www.champclarkbridge.com or the Champ Clark Bridge page on facebook.