Another piece of turnpike bridge falls into Kansas River basin

Another span of the old Kansas Turnpike bridge was blown on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. The metal will be cut up and hauled away.

Woodlawn School first-grader Tyler Bowden couldn’t be in class Wednesday afternoon, so he figured he’d learn something.

About blowing things up.

“I thought it’d be louder,” he said, as smoke cleared from what’s left — not much, it turns out — of an original Kansas Turnpike bridge across the Kansas River.

Wednesday afternoon’s demolition-by-explosion event attracted Bowden, his sister and about 40 other people to Burcham Park, where they could watch more than 250 tons of steel fall to the ground and river below.

Crews now will work to clear the debris and prepare for the next blasts, expected next month to remove two concrete-and-steel support columns.

The turnpike is spending $130 million to replace original river bridges, overhaul interchanges and make other upgrades by the end of 2011 at the edge of Lawrence.

Previous detonations took down other portions of the bridge.