Old Champ Clark demolition plan

The new Champ Clark bridge is almost invisible viewed from the south against the deck of the old bridge. Three Massman cranes are in position to complete the project.

LOUISIANA – Four of the five spans of the Champ Clark Bridge will be demolished two at a time in two blasts, representatives of the crews working on the project told interested locals Saturday.

With the focus shifting from the construction of the new Champ Clark the demolition of the old, the monthly  construction updates hosted by Massman Construction have enjoyed renewed popularity. September’s presentation was given by Massman Project Manager T.J. Columbatto and MoDOT Project Director Keith Killen.

Some work still remains to be done on the new bridge, including embankment work on the Illinois approach and new signage.

On the demolition front, crews have begun the process of removing the bridge’s driving surface, or “deck.” Asphalt has been milled off the length of the bridge, and crews have started removing the concrete deck itself, which contains a steel grid, from the second span from the Missouiri side.

The date of the first demolition, of the second and third span of the bridge, will come in mid-October. Columbatto said it would “most likely” come on a weekday. Demolitions could be delayed by weather.

Information about the blast — and where observers can safely station themselves — will be publicized as details are finalized.

“Its a pretty large area that we have to clear, just as a precaution — we want to make sure that you’re well out of the area where shrapnel could be,” Columbatto said.

Opportunities to push the button on the two demolitions will be selected from raffle of tickets sold by the Louisiana Community Betterment Association and history students at Pittsfield High School in Pike County, Ill. [See the graphic above for more details of the demolition]

Once the spans of the bridge, the piers that once supported them will be battered down to the water line with hydraulic rams and excavators. Beneath the water line, the piers will be cleared with explosives down to a level deemed safe for navigation.

“The blasting of the piers underwater is kind of anticlimactic,” Columbatto said. “You see a big bubble of water and a boom and that’s about it.”

An interpretive panel, incorporating pieces of the old bridge, will be installed in Riverview Park after the completion of the project. Killen said MoDOT was tentatively considering a date in December, when the team from Hannibal High School that won a contest to design the panel may be back from college.

CORRECTION: Based on information given at the monthly construction update, an earlier version of this article incorrectly reported who was conducting raffles for opportunities to push the button and demolish the old Champ Clark Bridge.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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