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Bridge Implosion Knocks Out Power, 911

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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A scheduled bridge implosion in Texas sparked an unscheduled communications failure Sunday that knocked out power to cell phones, first responder radios, and even 911 call centers.

More than 3,000 people in Marble Falls, TX, gathered early that morning to watch the 8:08 a.m. implosion of the 1930s-era steel-truss bridge, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

And they were the only ones who got to see it live, as the blast also cut power to TV stations covering the event.

A Flash and a Fizzle

With a flash and a bang, the bridge landed in the Colorado River within seconds. Unfortunately, restoring the power took hours, local ABC affiliate KVUE reported.

The problem: "[S]hrapnel from the bridge cut the Verizon fiber optic cable and nicked the sewer line," reported The River Cities Daily Tribune.

Marble Falls Bridge

The Marble Falls bridge was the largest steel truss bridge ever imploded in Texas.

Emergency calls were rerouted when the power failed, and none were lost, reports said.


In an upbeat press release the day after the event, Texas DOT called the implosion "electrifying" and did not mention the power outage

"Using controlled explosives is a very unique method to demolish a bridge—it's only been used a handful of times at the department,"  Greg Malatek, Austin District Engineer, said in the release.

Marble Falls Bridge implosion

The 600-foot-long bridge came down in seconds. Phone, Internet and 911 repairs took longer.

"In fact this was the largest steel truss bridge that has ever been demolished with explosives in Texas," added Malatek.

Added George Russell, mayor of Marble Falls: "U.S. 281 is a heavily traveled route, and we believe this innovative demolition method is the best option for the city.

"Instead of having to deal with another two months of dust and noise, this demolition method allowed us to perform the work at one time, ultimately resulting in a safer, quicker, and more efficient operation.”

About the Project

The implosion was part of a $30 million project to replace the original four-lane bridge with two side-by-side, two-lane bridges.


TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson and Marble Falls Mayor George Russell set the St. Patrick's Day implosion in motion. More than 3,000 spectators looked on.

The northbound bridge has been built and is currently carrying all traffic until the southbound bridge is constructed, which is scheduled to start in early April, according to the TxDOT. The project is expected to be completed in fall 2014.

Some of the 600 feet of steel from the bridge will be used to craft sculptures in the area, news reports said.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT)

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/20/2013, 8:57 AM)

Okay, other than this article, I see nothing in the linked articles about losing power (just telecom) - and I didn't see any lights go out when the bridge was blown, either in buildings around the bridge or at the TV trucks. Admittedly, I was a ways back from the bridge itself, but had a darn good view, and was fairly near the TV vans.

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