Part of Champ Clark Bridge to be demolished Friday


(NBC News/WGEM) — A bridge that’s spanned the Mississippi River for the last 90 years will be coming down.

Part of the old Champ Clark Bridge is set to be demolished on Friday.

The bridge at Louisiana, Missouri has connected Pike County, Illinois and Pike County, Missouri since 1928.

MoDOT said the demolition was pushed back a couple hours because high winds earlier this week prevented crews from doing some of the prep work necessary to pull off the demolition.

It will now happen sometime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday.

The demolition is the first of two planned implosions on the bridge.

MoDOT Project Director Keith Killen said Friday’s implosion will take down two sections of the bridge.

One of those is in the shipping channel, meaning barge traffic will be on hold until the debris is cleared from the water.

Killen said crews have 24 hours after the implosion to lift the bridge out of the water.

The 24 hour deadline is from the Coast Guard, so they can get barges moving up and down the river as quickly as possible.

They plan to attach cables to the bridge before they blow it up and attach the other end of the cables to buoys. Once the bridge falls into the water, the buoys float to the top and crews will be ready to hook them up to a crane to lift the pieces out of the water and onto a nearby barge.

Thirteen-year-old Pittsfield, Illinois teenager Mitchell Lemons will be the one to push the button to set off the implosion.

MoDOT offered up the chance to be the one to set off the explosives to bring down the bridge, allowing local organizations to sell tickets for the opportunity.

The Louisiana Chamber of Commerce used it as a fundraising tool to raise money for local first responders to buy equipment and other needed items.

The Pittsfield High School history club also raised money to support their club and that’s how Lemons won the opportunity.

MoDOT said there will be a restricted area around the bridge to keep people watching the implosion safe.  Crews will be on hand to make sure people are only in the safe zone.

Also of note, the new Champ Clark Bridge will be closed for the implosion.

MoDOT said the closure on the new bride will start about 45 minutes before the blast, and could stay closed up to 45 minutes after the blast.

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