Missouri Department of Transportation Engineer for St. Charles County, Tom Evers, stood in a parking lot overlooking the Blanchette Bridge on Sunday morning.
For a guy who builds stuff for a living, he was pretty excited to help blow something up.
“It is very cool to blow things up, I must admit,” Evers said, laughing. “I’m excited about putting it back to together, but this is definitely a cool event.”
Then, about an hour later a crowd of a few hundred people watched a 350 foot long span of the westbound part of the bridge get blasted into the Missouri River.
Knocking off a big chunk of the river crossing is part of an effort to replace around 75 percent of the bridge’s structure and completely replace the driving surface.
Evers said making $63 million worth of upgrades now will payoff down the line.
“We won’t have to come back to this bridge for a long time to do any significant work to it,” Evers said. “Another benefit is that by doing all this work now we will get another 50 to 75 years out of this bridge, and we don’t have to replace it.”
The westbound part of the bridge will be closed until the fall of next year, and traffic will be reduced from ten to six lanes while work continues. Traffic is switched over to the eastbound span to accommodate the work.
The contractor responsible for the bridge work has 48 hours to remove blast debris from the Missouri River.
MoDot hopes to implode another section of the bridge in early December.
More information on the road project can be found here.