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Locals react to old Champ Clark Bridge demolition

LOUISIANA, Mo. – The demolition of a Mississippi River icon moved forward Friday afternoon as two sections of the Old Champ Clark Bridge tumbled into the Mississippi River.

“So the new bridge seems much safer but I’ll still miss the old one in many ways,” Louisiana resident Grant Hemphill said.

He said  she learned to drive on the Old Champ Clark Bridge.

“White knuckles when you met and 18 wheeler on the bridge.”

“You can almost literally see where the mirrors on the outside of the semi trucks would just barely clear,” his wife Carolyn said.

Grant, Carolyn and their chihuahua Izzie were just a few of the many faces that came out to watch the 90-year-old bridge sink into the Mississippi.

Scheduled to take place somewhere between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., the bridge didn’t come crashing down until around 4:30 p.m..

MoDOT engineers said crews are on a deadline.

The ruins are blocking shipping lanes and US Coast Guard rules say they need to be gone within 24 hours.

MoDOT project leader Keith Killen said it’s a big reason they decided to take the bridge down section by section.

“Two today, two in a couple weeks,” Killen said. “We have a limited time to get the tresses out of the water so that really necessitates us not being able to take them all four down at the same time.”

For as much fun as it was to bring down, those watching say they’re sad to see it go.

“From MoDOT’s perspective, the bridge is historic, it’s an icon of the community,” Killen said.

To get the bridge out of the water, crews attached cables to the bridge before they blew it up…and attached the other end of the cables to buoys.

Once the bridge fell into the water, the buoys floated to the top.

Crews will no use a crane to lift the pieces onto a nearby barge.

Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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