Friday, August 22, 2003

Shortway Bridge soon to be shorter

Span to be imploded, cut up Monday

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

An 88-year-old bridge linking 11th Street in Newport with 12th Street in Covington will be imploded in seconds Monday morning.

If all goes according to plan, the Shortway Bridge will crash into the Licking River in six pieces at 8 a.m. and be shipped to a junkyard.

"It's not going to take long," said Jon Davies, president of CRS Demolition of Louisville. "It'll be a 10-second show."

The 360-foot span was closed two years ago to make way for the new $10.2 million Licking Valley Girl Scout Bridge. Purchased by the commonwealth in 1986, the former toll bridge was built in 1914.

Starting at 7:30 a.m. Monday, the Licking Valley Girl Scout Bridge will be closed to pedestrians and motorists, as demolition crews begin final preparations for the adjacent span's implosion. Five minutes before the blast, one long warning signal will sound, Davies said. A horn will continue to sound minute by minute until the 8 a.m. implosion.

"As soon as we get the all-clear signal from the demolition people, (the state bridge inspector) will do an inspection of the (Licking Valley Girl Scout) Bridge just to make sure nothing hit it that wasn't planned for," said Larry Trenkamp, branch construction manager for the state highway office in Northern Kentucky. "We plan to open it back up by around 8:30 a.m."

For 24 hours after the blast, the Licking River also will be closed to river traffic about 1,000 feet in each direction, Davies said. A crane barge will pull the bridge sections out of the river and take them to the Newport side of the bank. There River Metals Recycling on Licking Pike will process the debris with hydraulic shears and send it off to be recycled.

"We hope to have (the debris) out of the river within 12 hours, but we have a 24-hour permit from the Coast Guard just in case," Davies said. He said divers will check the river bottom for any stray pieces of debris.

At 7:30 a.m. Monday, motorists on both sides of the river will be stopped just outside the 500-foot blast zone and detoured down side streets, Davies said. Newport and Covington police hired by CRS Demolition will patrol both riverbanks starting at 6 a.m. Monday to ensure that no homeless people or spectators are in an unsafe area, he said. The Coast Guard will patrol the Licking River the morning of the implosion to turn back any unauthorized craft, and private security will guard the Shortway span around the clock, once it's rigged with explosives Sunday morning.

Short of "a major all-day lightning storm," there should be no weather-related delays on Monday, Davies said. He said the chemical explosives that demolition crews are using can't be set off by radios or excessive heat.

"The explosives don't blow anything apart any more," Davies said.

"They just cut the steel. It'll just be like a pair of scissors zipping through the steel and cutting it apart."


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