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MARBLE FALLS — When the countdown for the implosion of the old U.S. 281 bridge in Marble Falls begins March 17, KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune is throwing a party, and the public is invited.“This is a historic event for the community, and we want them to come and celebrate with us,” said Amber Weems of KBEY 103.9 FM. “We want people to come by, share their stories about the bridge and watch the implosion.”

The radio station is holding the Big Bang Bridge Party at 6-9 a.m. at Lakeside Park, 307 Buena Vista Drive.

“We’re going to be below the pavilion on the grass giving people a front-row seat to the event,” said Cindi Ashford, a sales representative with KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune. “This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we want people to come out and celebrate with us.”

KBEY on-air hosts Ed Chandler and Kay Baker will be broadcasting live from the park.

Texas Department of Transportation officials said the implosion is tentatively scheduled for 8 a.m. Crews with Omega Demolition plan to drop the bridge into Lake Marble Falls. Construction workers already have removed the concrete deck from the bridge, leaving only the steel skeleton.

Once the implosion is complete, crews will use cranes to retrieve the steel from the lake.

Omega Demolition, general contractor Archer Western, the City of Marble Falls and the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce are title sponsors for the Big Bang Bridge Party.

Ashford said the event commemorates not only the old bridge but the new structure and the people who have made it possible.

“The workers have been doing a great job on the bridge project,” she said. “We’re glad that they are a part of our community for the time that they are here.”

TxDOT began plans on replacing the 77-year-old bridge several years ago. The new bridge will include two separate structures with one holding southbound traffic and the other handling northbound traffic.

Traffic already has been rerouted to one of the new structures. Once the old bridge is destroyed, crews will begin building the second structure. Officials said they hope to have the new bridge completed in 2014.

“We’re going to have lots of cool giveaways during the event,” Ashford said.

People also can buy “Big Bang Bridge Party” T-shirts for $10. The proceeds will go to The Helping Center of Marble Falls.

“The bridge has been a backdrop to our lives, and, for some, this is a bittersweet event,” Weems said. “For almost eight decades, the old bridge has welcomed us home, and this is our chance to say goodbye. It’s a new chapter in Marble Falls’ history, in the entire Highland Lakes’ history. We hope people will come out and be a part of it.”

For more on the implosion, tune in to KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune.