Video: “Fire in the Hole!” Bridge Blast Sends 6M Lbs. of Steel into River

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Within seconds 6 million pounds of steel crashed into the Missouri River following the explosion of the Rocheport Bridge that has carried traffic across the waterway for 63 years.

The demolition September 10 of the bridge’s 1,100 feet of truss in Rocheport, Missouri, on Interstate 70 follows construction of the first of two new replacement bridges.

Crews will remove all of the steel from the river and worked around the clock to reopen the channel to boat traffic within three days.

The first new bridge opened in June and carries both directions of traffic until a new one is built in place of the old one. The first bridge will eventually carry westbound traffic, and the second one, scheduled to be completed in December 2024, will carry eastbound drivers.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said the old bridge was at the end of its useful life. It needed major rehabilitation, work that would have backed up traffic for three to eight hours at a time for a lengthy period on the state’s major east-west artery. The rehab work would have only extended its life by 10 years, MoDOT says.

The $220 million project to replace the bridge began in early 2022 with contractor Lunda Construction.

The new twin 3,120-foot-long bridges will be double the width of the old one, which carried four lanes of traffic. The new bridges will each carry three lanes of traffic with the capacity for four lanes each. The new bridges will have an estimated lifespan of 100 years, according to MoDOT.

Innovations for the project include “high friction surface treatment and pavement sensors to reduce weather-related incidents, wet reflective striping and a linear delineation system (a line of reflective signs along the barrier wall) to help make the lanes and bridge more visible.”

The new bridges will have five weathering steel plate girder spans and 10 pre-stressed concrete girder approach spans.