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Night time blast sends north bound lane of the Red River bridge plummeting

Clarksville, TN – Bell & Associates Construction blasted out the remaining concrete columns and the roadway support beams on the north bound lane of the Red River Bridge  in a tremendous explosion early on the morning of Wednesday, August 24th, 2011. The explosion took place at 12:02am during which time traffic on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard was completely shutdown.

The demolition was handled by explosives technicians from Engineered Explosive Services. The process first involved cutting almost completely through the massive steel support beams, then placing shaped cutting charges to finish the job. The support columns had been pre-drilled to allow explosive charges to be placed inside. Once that was complete, all equipment located on or near the bridge had to be removed. Then after a final safety check, it was time for the blast.

The blast was originally scheduled to occur at 10:00pm, however delays pushed that time back to shortly after midnight.

Just before the explosives were set off, the last bit of equipment was removed from the bridge. Once this was taken care of, blasts of a vehicle horn sounded. Light flashed through the night as explosive charges cut the bridge steel into four sections before two larger charges demolished the two supporting concrete pillars. The bridge folded into its self as it plummeted towards the river.

After the smoke cleared, the steel support beams could be seen rising out of the river. A few minutes later the road was re-opened.

The demolition proceeded under a special permit from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Typically explosive demolition is limited to daylight hours. That was impractical in this case due to the amount of traffic the road supports during the day.

The blast marks the end of phase two of the planned construction. They will now build the north bound lane portion of the new bridge. Phase two should be complete by December of this year.

The new bridge will feature two lanes on each side, along with a center turn lane. Both the north and south bound sides will feature sidewalks.

The green painted bridge was originally built in 1931, and dedicated as the Lynnwood-Tarpley Bridge; however most people in Clarksville simply called it the “Red River Bridge.”

TDOT Commissioner John Schroer was on hand to witness the demolition as this was the first demolition project during his tenure as the head of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  He said “I am sure that the citizens of Clarksville will be happy to see this project reach competition.”

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Bill Larson
Bill Larson
Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave. You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.
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