Demolition safety

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Evacuations are for wars, and violent storms, and earthquakes. Evacuations are what we read about involving people somewhere else. Last week saw the evacuation of some 2.5 million Floridians as Hurricane Frances headed for that state's eastern coast.

But evacuations also are for bridge blasts, and Cape Girardeau has witnessed a series of those as the old Mississippi River bridge comes tumbling down.

The next bridge blast -- currently scheduled for early Thursday -- will bring down the span closest to the Missouri side of the river. For safety's sake, the demolition company and the Missouri Department of Transportation want to create a safety zone within a 1,500-foot radius of the western end of the bridge. That means a number of residences and businesses in downtown Cape Girardeau need to be evacuated before the blast.

The evacuation isn't mandatory, and neither the demolition company nor MoDOT expect any major damage. But it's better to be on the safe side. Some windows might shatter from the explosion. Some debris may go flying through the air. Why take a chance?

The demolition company, Dem Tech, and MoDOT plan to provide transportation to alternate locations Thursday morning -- including VIP seating at Riverfront Park for displaced residents to view the bridge blast.

There will be some folks who choose to stay put rather than get up at such an early hour and leave their homes before the explosion. But everyone who's in the affected area should seriously think about their own safety first.

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