Fairfax Bridge demolition concludes in southern Platte County

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Remnants of the over-water spans of the Fairfax Bridge splash into the Missouri River during a planned implosion held Saturday, Jan. 24 near Riverside, Mo. in southern Platte County. The third and final stage of the demolition is slated for Thursday, Jan. 29. The U.S. Highway 69 bridge replacement project continues to blast ahead.

On Saturday, Jan. 24, workers simultaneously detonated both spans of the current Fairfax Bridge traversing the Missouri River near Riverside, Mo. in southern Platte County. The previous week two of the over-land spans were taken down, and the final implosion occurred on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 29 to finish demolition of the 1,904-foot structure.

A joint project of the Missouri and Kansas departments of transportation, construction on a new $79-million four-lane bridge to accommodate northbound and southbound traffic should begin soon with a tentative open date in December of 2016.

The southbound Route 69 bridge, commonly referred to as the Fairfax Bridge, was built in 1933, while the northbound Route 69 bridge, commonly referred to as the Platte Purchase Bridge, was built in 1957. Both were built to accommodate the type, size, and weight of vehicles at the time of construction, and were not designed for the high volume and heavy weight limits of truck traffic now common to the industrial area that has been built around them.

Narrow lanes and load limitations restrict the use of each bridge by overweight and oversized vehicles. Because of their age, both structures require frequent maintenance and costly extensive repairs, causing motorists further delay.

The Platte Purchase Bridge remains open to allow for north and southbound traffic on its two lanes. It will be detonated at a later date following the completion of the new span, tentatively set for early 2017.

Crews used 180 charges to detonate the overwater spans. Both of the recent explosions were heard and felt across a wide area.

On Saturday, the detonation was delayed nearly 30 minutes after at least one individual located inside the secure zone for the blast. The individual or individuals were later located and removed to allow the demolition to proceed.

Traffic was closed off at the Platte Purchase Bridge during each of the detonations.