The demolition contractor on the old Ledbetter Bridge has successfully topped Pier C nearest the Livingston County shoreline of the Tennessee River. The 83-year-old pier proved to be more resilient than expected.
The demolition crew tried to pull the pier over early this morning. That effort was unsuccessful. The crew then spent the rest of the day chipping additional concrete off the base of the pier just above the water line. At about 3 p.m., the crew hooked onto cables attached to the pier and started pulling again. The top of the pier came over with a resounding splash at 3:19 p.m.
While the extra work required to top the pier cut into the demolition timetable, engineers are confident they can still drill the pier base and have it prepared for explosives by sometime on Friday. With several hours needed to load explosives into both piers, a detonation would be expected late Friday afternoon, weather permitting.
Once the crew has drilled Pier C on Thursday and Friday morning, they’ll be able to establish a more accurate blasting schedule for the pier bases.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 Spokesman Keith Todd says extra time required to top Pier C is a good indicator of craftsmanship and engineering that went into the old bridge when it was constructed in 1931.
While there could be some weather issues on Friday, the demolition crew is optimistic they can be ready for a detonation. The crew will then use a crane to pluck concrete chunks of the remaining piers from the river bottom.