ST. CHARLES, Mo (KMOV.com) – A big explosion sent the final two sections of the westbound Blanchette Bridge into the Missouri River on Tuesday.
Crews used explosives Tuesday to take down the sections of the bridge that connects St. Louis and St. Charles counties along Interstate 70. The work is part of a $63 million rehabilitation project.
The interstate was shut down in both directions as workers blew up the rest of the west bound bridge superstructure at 10:24 a.m.
The westbound span closed Nov. 4 and will reopen next fall. For now, all traffic has been rerouted to the eastbound span.
About 1,000 people gathered to watch the bridge explosion. About 4.5 million pounds of steel dropped into the river, creating waves that crashed into the riverbank.
The first part of the bridge came crashing down on November 18. However, that was a Sunday when traffic was light.
MoDOT says they’re doing it on a workday because they can’t risk any delays.
“If they’re ready today on a Tuesday we don’t want to tell them no you have to wait for the weekend and then if the weather is bad you push them into the following weekend and so you have a lot of risk of having large delays,” said Engineer Tom Evers.
Cleaning up the debris after the blast was another challenge for workers because the low river levels could prevent effective water assistance.
“As far as moving barges around and getting any traffic in there is going to be a little toughter because of the low river levels,” Evers said.
Despite the challenges, downtown businesses in St. Charles aren’t seeing much fallout from the project.
The Three Flags Business Center is on Fifth Street, the first St. Charles exit off the bridge. Managers at the Midwest Eye office tell say the bridge work is not hurting business.
“So far things have been kind of quiet,” said Carolyn Jackson, an office manager. “Everybody’s talking about it of course but nobody’s said if it’s added any drive time or if it’s been a problem yet.”