Bridge blasting heading over water

Friday, August 20, 2004

For those who enjoyed watching the explosive first part of the old Mississippi River bridge's demolition, the dynamite sequel is on its way and this one is expected to make a splash.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has scheduled the second blast to bring down the bridge between Cape Girardeau and East Cape Girardeau, Ill., for Thursday at about 6:30 a.m., weather permitting. This portion of the demolition will take down Span 4, the remaining section closest to Illinois.

Span 4 consists of 314 feet of bridge that stands above land and water. After the explosion, cranes on barges will be used to lift the leftover pieces out of the water.

In order to leave pieces small enough for the cranes to lift, this explosion will be different from the first.

For the first demolition a few weeks ago, charges were placed only on the supports beneath the steel trusses, resulting in the steel structure falling to the ground mostly intact. According to MoDOT area engineer Stan Johnson, this time charges will be placed on the steel structure as well to blow the trusses into smaller, more manageable fragments.

"This time people will see steel cut apart," Johnson said.

As was the case during the first blast, all traffic within 1,500 feet of the blast will be stopped for about 10 minutes. In addition, the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge will again be closed for five minutes before and five minutes after the blast.

Road, water and air traffic will all be halted during the blast. Air traffic is restricted to a 2,000-foot radius. Water traffic is also restricted to a 1,500-foot radius.

Viewers are required to keep a 1,500-foot distance from the bridge. Anyone wishing to view the blasts may do so from downtown Cape Girardeau's riverfront. That is where MoDOT officials said the best view will be available.

The completion of this phase will leave three more spans -- 1,657 feet -- of bridge to be demolished. The date of the third phase has not yet been set.

335-6611, extension 137

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