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Champlain Bridge demolished - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Champlain Bridge demolished

West Addison, Vermont - December 28, 2009

Eighty years of history has come crashing down. The Lake Champlain Bridge between West Addison, Vt., and Crown Point, N.Y., reached the end of the road Monday.

The 80-year-old bridge came crashing down just after 10 a.m. Vermont Governor Jim Douglas detonated the explosives at 10:04 a.m. With an ear-splitting bang of 800 pounds of explosives about 1,700 feet of the aging span fell into Lake Champlain. The whole affair took about 10 seconds and appeared to go off without a hitch.

UVM engineering professor Dryver Huston watched the demolition from the WCAX studios. This was his assessment: "It looks like it was a complete success. Not only did the bridge come down, but it came down in small manageable-sized pieces. The next step of course would be to assess what happened today to make sure it really happened as they had hoped and if so, or if not, then make another plan to move forward which would be to salvage the parts as quickly as possible."

It's not every day we blow up historic landmarks-- especially ones that serve as key transportation links between two states. Planning has been underway for many years to replace the bridge, but that reconstruction was still several years away. But in October, an inspection of the bridge's foundation revealed deep cracks in two of the concrete piers. Engineers quickly decided to close the bridge to all traffic and three weeks later state officials decided the bridge could not be repaired. And so this morning, they demolished the Champlain Bridge.

The demolition was carried out by a company from Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, called Advance Explosives Demolition.

Crews have spent the past several days preparing the bridge for a controlled detonation; a series of small explosions that happen almost simultaneously and "cut" the bridge into sections that then drop into the lake.

The demolition targeted the main central span, about 1,700 feet of the 2,200 foot bridge.

"We're using a high-tech explosive called a linear shape charge," explained John Grady of Advance Explosives Demolition. "Very simply put, it's a tube made out of copper, it has a V loaded with RDX explosives. When detonated, it forms a knife-like fold in the metal and cuts through the steel. We're not using any traditional explosives."

Transportation officials expected the explosion to be very loud and said debris from the explosion could fly as far as 800 feet, that's why they kept everyone so far back from the bridge site.

Since the bridge closed in October, it has been a major inconvenience for commuters.

Ferry service has been ramped up to help get people across the lake. The Ticonderoga Ferry between Ticonderoga, N.Y., and Shoreham, Vt., is running seven days a week. And the ferries between Grand Isle and Plattsburgh and Charlotte and Essex are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Construction is underway for a temporary ferry between Addison and Crown Point. It's expected to be up and running by February.

Click here for more on the history of the Champlain Bridge.

Related Stories:

Champlain Bridge: The blast

Champlain Bridge: The reaction

Champlain Bridge: Snow spoils N.Y. view

Champlain Bridge: Watching from afar

Champlain Bridge: The cleanup

Champlain Bridge: Seeing history full circle

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