Archive for Monday, December 21, 2009

Another piece of turnpike bridge dismantled, readied for recycling; next blast scheduled for week of Jan. 11

Another section of the old turnpike bridge over the Kansas River was detonated Monday morning.

December 21, 2009, 12:30 p.m. Updated December 21, 2009, 5:03 p.m.


Blast levels part of old bridge

Another blast Monday sent a piece of the old Kansas River bridge crashing down. The next blast is scheduled for sometime during the week of January 11. Enlarge video

Unleashing copper-encased plastic explosives on a suspended cage of steel that weighs more than 400,000 pounds certainly meets Joe Jacobson’s definition of cool.

Not quite “Call of Duty” cool, mind you, but the Kansas Turnpike’s demolition-by-blasting sure beats memorizing multiplication tables at school.

“It’s like lightning,” the beaming third-grader said, moments after watching explosive charges rip through the steel so quickly — at more than five miles per second — that their flash easily could missed with a blink.

The remnants of Monday morning’s explosions, of course, will be around awhile.

The turnpike’s hired contracts are busy demolishing what remains of two original bridges that cross the Kansas River. Crews already have built one new bridge to carry turnpike traffic, and once the old bridges are gone work will begin on a second span.

It’s all part of a $130 million project that already has overhauled the West Lawrence interchange, replaces several other bridges, and soon will close and rebuild the East Lawrence interchange at the edge of North Lawrence.

Monday’s blast was the fourth such event conducted in recent weeks, and could be considered among the most important. That’s because once the fallen steel is removed — a process that began soon after the smoke had cleared, shoving the twisted beams into piles for recycling — another crew can start boring as much as 60 feet below the ground alongside the river.

Such holes will be the first of several that reach down to bedrock, to accommodate new concrete-and-steel supports for a bridge expected to be built and open by spring 2011.

Crews still need to pull steel pieces from the river before lining up the final blast to remove such metal: several sections that connect the river banks. That blast will be the fifth such event, tentatively planned for sometime during the week of Jan. 11.

Contractors need to be done working in the river by May 15, to comply with environmental permits.

“That’s why this is so important,” said Ron Nadvornik, project manager for Perry-based Hamm Inc., the project’s general contractor.


Stuart Evans 5 years, 9 months ago

where will this be recycled? is it being cut up and sent to China with the scrap from Cash for Clunkers?

leftylucky 5 years, 9 months ago

Has the bridge steel stuck in the actual river been removed?

mfagan 5 years, 9 months ago

Hello, leftylucky. Crews were lifting out some of the steel Monday, and officials hoped to have all that work done by the end of this week. As you may recall, some steel had become stuck in the mud at the bottom of the river. That happened Dec. 11, after a earlier blast. Once all that wet steel's all out of the way, crews will set up to blast what remains of old bridge supports crossing the river. That's the blast expected sometime during the week of Jan. 11. Keep an eye out for workers cutting the tops off the old bridge piers, to leave about three feet of concrete and steel above the water level. Then crews will drill down through each piers, into the river bottom, to set explosives. All that work will allow crews to pull the piers out before cleaning up what breaks loose. Lots of blasting... lots of clearing... all to make way for more construction... - Mark Fagan Transportation reporter

Commenting has been disabled for this item.