TxDOT reviewing plans for demolition of old U.S. 281 bridge piers

JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — A less-than-perfect bridge implosion has delayed the demolition of two piers in Lake Marble Falls that are all that remains of the old U.S. 281 bridge.

Initial plans from the Texas Department of Transportation were to use explosives to demolish the remaining piers sometime in the last week of March. After reviewing those plans, officials now say that demolition — with explosives — is tentatively scheduled for April 4. No time has been set.

“We still want there to be (day)light but with the least traffic implications as possible,” TxDOT spokesperson Kelli Reyna said.

Reyna said the plans for the pier demolition are being revised after the March 17 bridge implosion that cut telecommunication lines and punctured a sewer line.

Reyna said TxDOT does not have a blasting expert and must rely on a blaster’s safety record and work history.

“Still, there were issues that occurred that we were told would not,” Reyna said. “That’s why the plan is being revised, to make sure additional safety measures are covered.”

The piers will be demolished with explosives placed underwater. The blast should break the concrete piers into pieces that will be picked up with specialized buckets attached to cranes that will pick up the debris from the lake.

“We want to make sure we consider the safety of it all,” Reyna said. “There are the same issues we had the first time around. Some of the changes are reviewing current infrastructure and safety precautions taken.”

Reyna said extra blast mats are being added on top of the piers to contain the forces of the blast.

“No physical barriers will be attached to the utilities because of the underwater, contained nature of the blast and the physical distance to the utilities lines,” she said. “However, representatives from all utility providers have been contacted and will be on site for this blast, just in case.”

The remaining truss piece leaning against the north pier was removed March 25. The piece was larger than planned because of charges that did not detonate during the March 17 implosion. With it gone, all steel from the bridge has been removed from the lake.

Once the piers are demolished and the debris is removed from the lake, construction can begin on the second, southbound bridge. The project remains scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014.

jared@thepicayune.com