Demolition of the old IL-104 Meredosia Bridge over the Illinois River began Wednesday.
At approximately 3:30, IDOT officials and Halverson Construction team members, as well as local resident onlookers heard a large bang and smoke lifting from the easternmost section of the old bridge, which was replaced by a newer, 44-foot travel bridge just to the North earlier this year. The easternmost section of the bridge was the only section removed.
John Sestak is a Supervising Construction Field Engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Sestak details Wednesday’s partial, and yet structurally reliable, demolition.
“Cargill had a planned shutdown for maintenance of their facility. Their access for delivery of grain was the road under span 5. While they are closed for maintenance, we’re going to get span 5 out of here and reopen that road so they can reopen next week.”
Sestak describes the next few steps as the summer comes to a close.
“The demolition crew will proceed with what is called pre-cutting on the remaining truss over the Illinois River. That’s going to take quite a bit of work. We’re going to expect that project to be completed sometime during the week of August the 20th. At that time, the cut charges will be placed and the remainder of the bridge will all be demolished at one time.
Sestak and IDOT have deciphered the steel removal process to fit government needs.
“It is going to fall into the river. The plan is to cut the main span into somewhere between 11 and 13 pieces – depending on how much each piece weighs they will decide how many to cut. A 350 ton crane will be sitting in the river on a barge. When the truss hits the river, only 24 hours is given by the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to clear the main Illinois River channel for barge traffic.”
Phil McCarty is the Morgan County Emergency Medical Coordinator and inspected the single blast to the eastern span 5 of the previous bridge. McCarty celebrates collaboration in safety.
“In order to make this a successful and safe demolition process, we had complete collaboration and total support between:
- Morgan County Sheriff’s Department
- Meredosia Police
- Meredosia Fire
- Meredosia EMS
- Arenzville Police
- Jacksonville Police
- R&H and the Morgan County Dive Team patrolling the river
- Illinois State Police
- Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)
It was not all smiles, however. A woman who lives by the same “sidewalk closed” from our Facebook post at WLDS WEAI News was beleagured by the crowd and assured our Assistant News director of her rights, wanting no one injured on her property. He obliged and later came to learn that her property had been cut off from the newly constructed traffic lanes without warning.
The bridge crossing the Illinois River was first built more than eight decades ago in 1936. The new bridge that makes for a new route of transportation just north of the old bridge came with a price tag of $86 million dollars and has been opened for traffic since June 19th.
As for the new bridge, it is constructed with wider shoulders on two lanes for the purpose of allowing large farm equipment to travel the bridge safely without impeding oncoming traffic.