CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Residents hoping to see the now-closed bridge between Nitro and St. Albans go out with a bang are set for a letdown.
The Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge, which carries traffic between the two cities over the Kanawha River, officially closed Monday. Demolition crews will now prepare to raze the 78-year-old span.
But witnesses of the demolition won't get to hear an explosive bang, feel the concussion against their chests, nor see sections of steel plummeting to the waterway below.
Instead, over the next three months they will witness the less exciting process of crews methodically dismembering the structure piece by piece.
"It's just going to be steel coming down slowly," said Carrie Bly, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.
Bly said the department had braced itself for a deluge of complaints about the closing from detoured motorists, but few were heard from on Monday.
She said most people understand the bridge is old and needs to be replaced. But others have complained upon learning the bridge will not come down in a blaze of glory.
"I think a lot of people are disappointed that it's not going to be some kind of awesome display of a bridge coming down into the river and go out in some kind of grand, spectacular show," Bly said.
Workers with Kokosing Construction on Monday began phase two of the two-year, $23.6 million project to replace the current bridge with a three-lane span.
Workers spent the past nine months strengthening and improving the current bridge's piers so they can support the wider replacement.
Because the new bridge, with a 5-foot-wide sidewalk and middle turning lane, will be supported by the existing piers, engineers decided not to use explosives to bring it down.
Instead, workers will use saws to cut apart chunks of the bridge deck and steel and haul it away bit by bit.
Two teams of workers will start at either end of the bridge and begin to dismantle it, Bly said.
"We will cut the deck into pieces, then bring in excavators to remove the slabs and then haul them away by truck," she said.
She said that work is likely to take the entire month. Passersby won't see much change until demolition work transitions to the steel superstructure next month.
Bly said that's when the public will start to see the viewscape slowly transformed.