2006-08-03 / Front Page

Old bridge foundation blast planned for next week

By Sam Bari

Seaside Drive demolition: Piers continue to fall in preparation for the next phase of the removal of the old Jamestown Bridge Seaside Drive demolition: Piers continue to fall in preparation for the next phase of the removal of the old Jamestown Bridge The state Department of Transportation announced this week that the next underwater detonation of the old Jamestown Bridge is planned for Tuesday, Aug. 8, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Although the event will be much smaller than those conducted earlier, this detonation is expected to require a brief clearance but no closure of the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge. The upcoming detonation will involve two piers on the North Kingstown side of the West Passage. The U.S. Coast Guard will again establish a 3,000-foot safety zone on either side of the demolition. The detonation date is subject to change due to adverse weather or safety concerns.

Project Engineer Patrick O'Malley of Cashman Equipment Company of Boston, the contractor awarded the project, gave more detailed information concerning the event.

"We'll be blasting the foundations of piers 9W and 10W on the west end of the bridge," O'Malley said. "Ramp access to Route 138 will probably be limited at the time of the detonation. They aren't going to have an official closing like they did when we dropped the center span. They will more than likely stage a rolling closure which entails state troopers leading limited groups of motorists across the bridge at controlled lower speeds and stopping traffic entirely if necessary," he said.

"This is a test blast for us," O'Malley continued. "If it goes as planned, there is a good chance we won't have another major closing like the events we held in the spring. We'll know whether we need another major closing by next week. We'll keep you informed," he added.

The Highway Advisory Radio system at 1630 AM will broadcast announcements concerning traffic restrictions, slowdowns, and other up-to-the-minute information. For complete details, interested parties can also visit the DOT Web site at www.dot.state.ri.us. Safety zones will be strictly enforced in the air, on land, and on the water. Road signs announcing closings, slowdowns and other pertinent information are already in place.

O'Malley also talked about the progress made since the last blasting event in May. "All of the steel that dropped into the bay has been removed," he said. The only steel left to come down is the last girder stand between piers 8E and 9E on the Jamestown side and the trestle steel on the west side. We're building an access road to the pier off of Seaside Drive so the backhoe can drive up to pull it down.

"Dredging to remove debris from the bay bottom will start this week," he added. "The hoe ram worked very well," O'Malley said. "We chipped away at the trestle stands and piers with the big chisel and managed to bring them down without incident. Everyone appears to be happy with the project. We're ahead of schedule and everything has gone smoothly. Local residents on both sides of the bridge have been very co-operative, and law enforcement has done an exemplary job of keeping everyone safe while rerouting traffic and evacuating homes to keep us on schedule," he concluded.

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