The Kansas Turnpike Authority’s next bridge blast will be bigger, louder and, yes, wetter.
A 333-foot-long stretch of support steel for an original bridge over the Kansas River is among several sections set for blasting at 10 a.m. Dec. 8.
The single section — weighing more than 300 tons — will be expected to draw much of the attention, as it will be split into four pieces by directional explosives and dropped with a splash into the river below.
While earlier blasts have dropped steel onto temporary extensions of the river bank, next week’s event will feature more light, smoke and force — all to cut bridge pieces small enough to be easily dragged from the river.
“There will be a lot more fireworks,” said Rex Fleming, the turnpike’s project engineer for construction of new bridges and related work at the edge of Lawrence.
In all, the Dec. 8 blast will remove more than 1,200 feet of steel that had supported a bridge for traffic heading east on the turnpike for more than 50 years. Remaining steel for the former westbound bridge is scheduled to be dropped at 10 a.m. Dec. 15.