Video – Meredosia bridge blasted…

82-year old bridge sent to bottom of Illinois River.

The old Illinois 104 bridge that crosses the Illinois River at Meredosia was imploded yesterday morning.

Despite heavy rain that ended about 90 minutes before the blast, the entire procedure went as planned, according to John Sestak, a construction field engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“It pretty much looks just like they drew it up on paper,” said Sestak as he surveyed the fallen pieces of steel protruding above the river surface. “A structural engineer analyzed where the cuts should be based on how much weight the cranes are capable of picking up out of the water. Then they placed the charges accordingly.

“The charges are made of explosives and copper, so when the explosive goes off it melts the copper and accelerates it and the copper is actually what cuts through the steel, like a welding torch,” Sestak said. “They box the charges in and wrap them in rubber to try and limit the amount of shrapnel that is blown away.”

The Illinois River was to be closed to water traffic for 24 hours to give crews enough time to clear the debris. The new alignment of Illinois 104, including the new $86.2 million bridge, also was closed for safety immediately before and after the demolition charges were detonated