Part of the nation's first interstate highway project is no more, having been spectacularly dropped into the Missouri River on Tuesday.

The Blanchette Memorial Bridge was a rugged twin cantilever supporting part of what's now called I-70. Back in 1956, that stretch of roadway constituted America's first interstate project created by the Federal Aid Highway Act.

On Tuesday morning, with the friendly assistance of 65 pounds of explosives, the Blanchette span was converted into a hard cloud of dust-spuming rubble and knotted steel that fell spectacularly into the Missouri River. Here she blows:

Many a hoot and a "damn!" arose from the crowd of rubberneckers gathered along the banks of the river in St. Charles, just northwest of St. Louis. The controlled demolition, managed by Wyoming's Demtech, took just .17 thousandths of a second to deliver 1,030 feet of bridge into the unfettered hands of gravity. In the coming days, the contractor overseeing the Blanchette project will fish out 4.5 million pounds of cut steel from the riverbed, where it will likely be recycled and (construction-karma willing) turned into another bridge that will also be exploded in the future.

Blanchette used to be the St. Louis area's busiest bridge with some 165,000 drivers crossing it each day. But Missouri decided it needed to vitalize the antiquated passage, so it's rehabbing or replacing about three-quarters of it to the tune of $65 million. Yesterday's detonations finished removing the westbound section of the span after its superstructure was blown up in November (photos here). If everything runs on schedule, a new bridge will stand in its place in late 2013.

These are more booming looks at Blanchette's final seconds. "Do it again!" indeed:

You can almost feel the shockwave rippling your epidermis in this video:

Photos courtesy of the Missouri Department of Transportation on Flickr.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. photo: Protesters gather at Dolores Park in San Francisco, California on June 3.
    Environment

    Amid Protest and Pandemic, Urban Parks Show Their Worth

    U.S. cities are now seeing the critical role that public space plays during a crisis. But severe budget cuts are looming. Can investing in parks be part of the urban recovery?

  4. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  5. A participant holding a Defund Police sign at the protest in Brooklyn.
    Equity

    To Defund the Police, Activists Rewrote City Budgets

    As national protesters call for defunding police, a movement for anti-racist “people’s budgets” is spreading from LA to Nashville to Grand Rapids.

×