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DOH forced to change bridge demolition plans

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Dick Henderson Bridge will go out with a bang after all.

The state Division of Highways announced Thursday morning that it has changed its demolition plans for the remaining portions of the Richard "Dick" Henderson Memorial Bridge, which used to connect the cities of Nitro and St. Albans.

Crews from Kokosing Construction had been slowly dismantling the bridge's steel superstructure. They removed the first portion of the bridge's center last Thursday.

But division spokeswoman Carrie Bly said that as crews began cutting into sections of the bridge closer to the river bank, they realized they needed to change their plans.

"The remaining steel was heavier than they anticipated and it's too heavy to lift," Bly said.

Once dismantled sections of the bridge had been cut away, a large crane was lowering them slowly down onto a barge to be shipped to a Kokosing scrap yard.

Bly said the weight of some remaining portions was too much to remove in this piecemeal manner.

Kokosing workers now plan to shoot explosives onto the remaining portions and blast them apart.

The company is required to give the public two weeks' notice that they will do this type of explosive work.

Bly said Kokosing plans to blast the St. Albans portion of the span at 10 a.m. Friday, March 1. The remaining portion on the Nitro side of the Kanawha River the following Friday, March 8, at 8 a.m. 

Some members of the public had initially expressed disappointment that the bridge wasn't going to be brought down by explosives in the first place.

Bly said the new demolition method should help satiate that desire. 

"It's going to make noise," she said. "I guess you could say it's going to be what people wanted."

The piecemeal dismantling was initially planned to protect the bridge piers, which have already been refitted to support the new three-lane bridge that will replace the current two-lane span.

Bly said enough of the bridge has been removed to allow contractors to safely use the blasting method.

"It will be done in a way that it will not damage the piers," she said. Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-5148.


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