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Decrepit Bridge Refuses to Go Down

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

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A 98-year-old bridge in Maine, said to be in imminent danger of falling, held its own against a round of explosives Thursday (Feb. 27). 

Contractors plugged the 250-ton New Sharon bridge with dynamite, expecting it to collapse on its side into the Sandy River below. 

However, steel beams in the abutments, which were not listed in the bridge plans, prevented the explosives from taking down the bridge. 

New Sharon bridge
Flickr / cmh2315fl

The 98-year-old New Sharon bridge was no longer safe for vehicle or pedestrian traffic, but steel beams the contractors were unaware of prevented explosives from taking the bridge down as planned.

"It's an old bridge, and there just wasn't a lot of information available about its construction," Andy McPherson, project manager for CPM Constructors, told the Portland Press Herald, which posted a video of the failed attempt.

Danger of Collapsing

The 268-foot-long bridge was no longer safe for vehicle or pedestrian use and had been closed since the 1990s due to cracks in an abutment. Last fall, the Maine Department of Transportation told New Sharon town officials that the bridge was in danger of collapse and offered to pay to remove it. 

The New Sharon Board of Selectmen accepted the offer. CPM Constructors of Freeport, ME, was the low bidder at $346,764, according to MaineDOT

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge used to carry old Route 2 over the Sandy River. A new bridge was built parallel to it to carry traffic.

'Collapsed Perfectly'

Last week, the contractor placed four dynamite charges in two abutments holding up the bridge. When the explosives were set off about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, they were supposed to blast the abutments out from under the bridge, allowing the bridge to tip over into the river. 

National Register of Historic Places
MaineAnEncyclopedia.com

The 250-ton bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, but was closed in the '90s.

But when that didn't work, contractors from CPM Constructors used excavators, a giant jackhammer and hydraulic sheers to cut the bridge, eventually dropping it into the river shortly after 5 p.m., according to the Franklin Sun Journal

"It just collapsed perfectly," McPherson said. "It went straight down, so we can actually use the bridge itself to get into the water." 

The contractors said they expected it to take about three days to cut the steel beams and remove them from the river. 

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Concrete; Contractors; Demolition; Department of Transportation (DOT); Roads/Highways; Steel

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