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Portion of the old Champ Clark Bridge demolished

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(WGEM) — A portion of the old Champ Clark Bridge that has spanned the Mississippi River for the last 90 years was demolished on Friday.

The bridge at Louisiana, Missouri has connected Pike County, Illinois and Pike County, Missouri since 1928.

MoDOT had originally pushed back the demolition until sometime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday due to high winds earlier in the week that MoDOT said prevented their crews from doing some of the prep work necessary to pull off the demolition. However the bridge did not end up coming down until shortly before 4:30 Friday afternoon.

The demolition was the first of two planned implosions on the bridge.

MoDOT Project Director Keith Killen said Friday's implosion took down two sections of the bridge.

One of those is in the shipping channel, meaning barge traffic will be on hold until the debris is cleared from the water.

Killen said crews have 24 hours after the implosion to lift the bridge out of the water.

The 24 hour deadline is from the Coast Guard, so they can get barges moving up and down the river as quickly as possible.

Cables attached to buoys were attached to the bridge prior to blowing it up. Once the bridge fell into the water, the buoys floated to the top and crews were in place to hook them up to a crane to lift the pieces out of the water and onto a nearby barge.

Thirteen-year-old Pittsfield, Illinois, teenager Mitchell Lemons pushed the button to set off the implosion.

MoDOT offered up the chance to be the one to set off the explosives to bring down the bridge, allowing local organizations to sell tickets for the opportunity.

The Louisiana Chamber of Commerce used it as a fundraising tool to raise money for local first responders to buy equipment and other needed items.

The Pittsfield High School history club also raised money to support their club and that's how Lemons won the opportunity.

MoDOT said there was a restricted area around the bridge to keep people watching the implosion safe.  Crews were on hand to make sure people are only in the safe zone.

Jim Roberts

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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