JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Cell phone, internet and radio/TV connections went out as the U.S. 281 bridge went down early March 17. As the bridge imploded from left to right with flashing lights and one large POP, shrapnel from the bridge cut the Verizon fiber optic cable and nicked the sewer line.
Thousands watching from Lakeside Park in Marble Falls cheered, not knowing they would soon be unable to Facebook, tweet or call their friends to spread the news that the 77-year-old bridge was no more. KBEY radio, which was broadcasting live from the scene, lost connection on location, reverting instantly to recorded music. TV stations covering the event live went black.
City and phone service officials confirmed that a phone line was cut limiting cell phone service and internet services. Officials re-routed 9-1-1 emergency calls to Burnet dispatchers after the outage. No emergency calls came in during that time, said Marble Falls Fire Rescue Chief Johnny Caraway.
Wastewater runs through double lines, so no spillage happened, assured Caraway. Sewage is being rerouted until the pipes are repaired, which should be by sometime Sunday evening.
Phone service may take a little longer, says Verizon spokesman Doug Arnold, who spoke to a Picayune reporter briefly before his phone went dead. Rubble from the bridge blocked the cut line and had to be cleared before work could begin he said. According to Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson Kelli Reyna, Verizon crews were working to string a new cable. Service could still take hours to be restored.
Crews closed traffic to the bridge at 7:50 a.m. The implosion occurred eight minutes past the scheduled 8 a.m. detonation.
Following the blast, officers halted traffic for another hour as one charge did not detonate, according to TxDOT officials. The charge was removed safely from the structure and traffic resumed on just two lanes at about 9:08 a.m.