Bridge demolition ahead of schedule
Despite heavy rains, the dismantling of the old Jamestown Bridge is "on budget and ahead of schedule," said Project Supervisor John McNulty of Cashman Equipment Company of Boston, the contractors hired by the state Department of Transportation to demolish and dispose of the aging structure.
"We're close to complete with the slabs," McNulty continued, referring to the last of the concrete slabs being removed from the remaining sections of roadway still intact over the end trusses of the old bridge. The pavement and girder spans had already been removed from the section that was over Seaside Drive. There the new Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge now stands alone as the remnants of its old neighbor are loaded onto barges by a mammoth ringer crane.
"It takes about a week to load a barge and two days to unload it," McNulty said. "In all, we'll make approximately 15 trips to the two artificial reefs to dispose of the concrete. A smaller crane goes with the barge to lift the debris and drop it into the ocean" he continued. "There will be a few minor bridge closings for a half hour or so, and possibly one more major closing, probably around September, but I can't say exactly when. The DOT will inform residents and motorists of the exact dates in plenty of time to prepare for the events," he added.
"The big job now is to bring down the concrete abutments. We implement a technique called hoe ramming. We use an 8,000-pound chisel or hammer to chip away at the concrete until the structure falls apart. If that is successful, we won't need to blast much more," he said.
"We have a full crew of 35 men working every day to finish the dismantling process and retrieval of the debris from the bay. A 300-foot channel, well defined by marker buoys, is open to water traffic as promised. The dismantling of the bridge has had little impact on the residents and environment of the surrounding area, and so far, the project is injury-free. We can't ask for better than that," he said.
Resident engineers and technicians for the State Department of Environmental Management Bobby Battista and Glenn Correnta are responsible for coordinating the 42 law enforcement officers required to handle the bridge closings on the Jamestown and North Kingstown sides, respectively. They said that the crew, police officers, and residents have been more than cooperative and patient during the
closings. They only related one incident that caused a minor delay in the last blasting event.
A resident of Seaside Drive was seen by Jamestown police officers as he climbed onto his roof just after the one-minute warning horn signaling the ensuing blast had sounded. Apparently, the man hid in his attic when the officers made final house checks and then emerged to observe the event from a closer view than the law allowed. Everyone wondered why the "one-minute warning" was inordinately long. Actually, the delay was almost three minutes - the length of time it took the officers to remove the man from the roof and take him a safe distance away from the explosion.