Archive for Friday, December 11, 2009

Explosion brings down largest section of Kansas Turnpike bridge to date

The third and final section of the old Kansas Turnpike bridge over the Kansas River was detonated Friday morning.

December 11, 2009, 10:11 a.m. Updated December 11, 2009, 12:29 p.m.


Tracking the boom

People around the area have reported hearing today's explosion from considerable distances from the bridge. Did you? Let us know where you were if so, and we'll map the responses to see how far the sound traveled.

Google Map

How far could the blast be heard?

View Turnpike bridge demolition in a larger map

Josie Speirer, 11, had waited for two hours Friday morning in the snow at Burcham Park.

She and her brother, Orion, 9, spent their time making snow angels and throwing snowballs at their dad, Rodney Speirer, as they watched for the Kansas Turnpike Authority to blast the eastbound span of the old Kansas River bridge at the northern edge of Lawrence.

After a 50-minute delay, the Speirers weren’t disappointed as they saw the 50-year-old bridge come down in seconds with a crash — and partly a splash.

“It was just so much bigger than I thought it would be,” Josie said. “It was awesome. I want to see it again.”

It was the turnpike authority’s third and biggest blast in the large-scale demolition project to replace the bridges over the river and remake the turnpike near Lawrence.

“The main thing is to get it down on the ground where we wanted it, and that happened,” said Rex Fleming, the turnpike’s project engineer.

Close to the scheduled blast time of 10 a.m. Friday, crews had to review some of the connections before they finally set up rolling road blocks for traffic and set off the successful blast at 10:50 a.m.

But in the end, seeing the puffs of black smoke, the bridge coming down and hearing the loud boom made it worth it, said Josie, who missed a morning of class at Cordley School to see the spectacle in person.

“I wanted the kids to experience it. It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing to see a real-live explosion and demolition like this,” her dad, Rodney, said.

Part of the bridge landed in the water. It was all part of the plan, and crews will work with cranes to remove it, Fleming said.

The construction crew hit one more milestone along the major project with the blast. They are now preparing to do the same thing to the westbound span of the old bridge.

Fleming said they haven’t set a date for that yet because it depends on construction progress and the weather. Crews are looking at either late next week or early in the following week.


jfcm77 8 years, 6 months ago

I heard the blast (on my computer speakers) and I'm on the KU campus!

jackpot 8 years, 6 months ago

How long is the live stream delay? I'm by Hallmark the house rattled from blast before the screen showed the blast.

af5 8 years, 6 months ago

A friend asked if I was going to watch this bridge come down. I said, "probably not," and forgot about it... Today, our cats flipped out while my 9th & NY house rattled. I soon remembered.

That was pretty loud!

gccs14r 8 years, 6 months ago


Don't you live down by Emporia now? That'd be a heck of an explosion to rattle you all the way down there.

+1 on internet lag causing the video to be behind the physical shockwave.

George_Braziller 8 years, 6 months ago

When the first section came down the explosion rattled all the windows in my house. This time it was more like a car backfiring from a block away.

iloveme 8 years, 6 months ago

I was busy standing in line at the slowest post office on the face of the earth, missed it...kind of upset. Heard the first one blast around Thanksgiving though...

8 years, 6 months ago

yes the very first blast was crazy loud, the other 2 not so much...

KsTwister 8 years, 6 months ago

After the Minnesota disaster Lawrence journalists were too quick to announce this bridge was safe. Guess this proves it wasn't and KTA moved to fix it. Just can't believe everything you read in the papers anymore. Check the facts,question the facts, then print.

usafJayhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

That was a good lookin' Crew Boathouse, wasn't it! Hope the river gets cleaned up before spring practice starts, or else it'll be no more rows up the power plant. I had a lot of memories of that bridge...

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