2006-09-07 / News

No more major closings to blast old bridge

By Sam Bari

"If all goes as planned, the major closings of the Old Jamestown Bridge are over," said project engineer Patrick O'Malley of Cashman Equipment Company of Boston, the general contractor awarded the project.

"Weather permitting, we'll have a small blasting today and possibly two next week, but the bridge shouldn't be closed for more than half an hour at a time for any explosive event. Even then, the state police will hold rolling closures. A major shutdown won't be necessary. In total, we planned for six or seven small blasting events," he said.

On Tuesday, Aug. 22, piers 15W, 16W, 17W and 18W on the North Kingstown side were detonated in two separate blasts. The first detonation took place at approximately 10:30 a.m. when only one pier fell. The other three charges had to be reset. The second detonation took place around 11 a.m. when the remaining piers dropped without incident.

The blaster from DemTech, the demolition experts headquartered in Dubois, Wyo., who were subcontracted to set the explosives, also successfully dropped piers 19, 20, and 21 west. Those piers were also on the North Kingstown side. The event took place last Thursday, Aug. 31, at approximately 1 p.m.

"We held the previous blasting events earlier in the day," O'Malley said. "We did this one in the afternoon because of tidal considerations. We like to blast at high tide because it reduces the fish kill. Unfortunately, a few fish die in any explosive event where marine life is present. That can't be helped. However, we make every effort to minimize the adverse affects of any explosion, and blasting at high tide seems to dramatically reduce the kill. Consequently, we delayed the detonation until later in the day. Environmental concerns are a big priority, and we do our best to preserve and protect the areas where we work," he said.

"Now, we're in a major cleanup mode, clearing the debris from the bay bottom," O'Malley continued. "We'll continue removing the debris as we prepare to detonate the final explosives needed to drop the remaining piers. We still have three bays of trestle stand to remove on the west side. We'll dismantle the steel trestles and concrete roadway mechanically," he said.

All of the steel has been removed mechanically on the Jamestown side. A few trestle stands are still standing off the shoreline. Most were taken down to water level with the hoe ram, which performed well, meeting all expectations, according to O'Malley.

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