Chouteau Bridge

By Brent Blanchard

(Originally published in Demolition Magazine)

KANSAS CITY, MO - With little fanfare and a smattering of nearby residents looking on, demolition specialists Chicago Explosive Services (CES), Chicago, IL recently blasted the third and final span of the historic Chouteau Railroad Bridge over the Missouri River.

Built in 1886, the bridge provided the first rail link between Kansas City and Chicago as part of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. The City bought the span in 1951 and later modified it for vehicular use. In recent years the rickety structure was closed numerous times, both because of structural problems as well as for many accidents related to its narrow 16-foot width.

CES blaster Patrick Carney used approximately 200 pounds of copper-clad linear-shaped explosive charges to fell the landmark structure over a period of two months. Because the Missouri River is a critical navigable waterway, each span required the placement of over 160 individual charges to insure the scuttled pieces would be small enough to remove from the channel in a timely manner. Project representatives reported no delays in shipping traffic during the operation, as all sections were safely removed within the US Coast Guard's strict 48-hour clearance window.

In December 2001, the bridge was replaced by a new 4-lane, $35 million span located just north of the original site.

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