Greenfield Bridge as seen from the air, 24 December 2015 (photo from Pat Hassett)
I don’t usually write about bridges, but there was big excitement only 1,200 feet from my house yesterday when contractors blew up the Greenfield Bridge. As you can see from the photo above, it connected my neighborhood to Schenley Park (right of photo) over the Parkway East I-376. I haven’t been able to walk into this part of Schenley since the bridge closed on October 17.
Even if you don’t live in Pittsburgh, the implosion made national news so you probably saw videos on TV. Here are some photos of the event, a bit of the birds’ perspective, and links to my favorite implosion videos.
Above, a birds-eye view of the bridge on Christmas Eve. Below, the bridge is wrapped, charged and waiting on Monday morning, December 28.
The Greenfield Bridge, just before it blows (photo by Geoff Campbell)
The implosion required a lot of warning, coordination, street blocking and police patrols. The map below shows the exclusion zone.
Folks could stay home if their house was inside the circle but they had to stay inside and away from windows. If you live that close to something this exciting, you either left home to watch nearby or you saw the best view of all on TV.
Map of the Exclusion Zone around the implosion (distributed by City of Pittsburgh)
My house is outside the circle but I watched from one of the red roads closed to traffic. Those roads have good views but were open only to pedestrians to prevent gawkers’ cars from causing traffic and parking problems. It was fun watching with the neighbors. We were all in a party mood.
Starting an hour+ before the blast an infrared sensing helicopter circled overhead to make sure no one was outdoors within the exclusion zone. One guy snuck into the woods and had to be rousted out. We never saw him but he delayed the blast 20 minutes.
Back in October the neighborhood held a party and raffled off a chance to push the plunger and blow up the bridge. Sally Scheidlmeier, pictured below, won that honor. Here she is with the plunger (“Let’s Do It”) and the plunger’s victim in the distance, only minutes before the blast. She pushed the plunger …
Sally Scheidlmeier just before she pushed down the plunger to blow up the bridge (photo by Geoff Campbell)
… and then …
Thar she blows! (photo from Pat Hassett)
Here’s my favorite video of the blast from the Post-Gazette. Watch for the guy in the hard hat and orange-yellow vest who runs into the picture and down the road. That’s a man who loves his job!
Down in The Run (the neighborhood in the valley on the left side of the exclusion zone), Trinidad Regaspi took a video with her cellphone. Do you see that bird-like dot to the right of the telephone pole? It’s one of four wild turkeys that flew across the valley to escape the noise. They sure had a story for their friends last night!
Four wild turkeys escape the blasts (screenshot from video by Trinidad Regaspi’s Facebook video)
… and then the bridge was gone.
The Bridge is gone! (photo by Geoff Campbell)
It didn’t take long before the contractors were down on the Parkway picking up the pieces. Six pillars on the Schenley side didn’t fall during the blast but they came down shortly after I took this photo at noon. Alas, I missed it.
Six leaning pillars still stand on the Schenley side, but not for long. At noon on 28 Dec 2015 (photo by Kate St. John)
At road level there’s a lot of debris.
Picking up the pieces in the rain (photo from Pat Hassett)
The contractors are out there picking up the pieces all day and all night (we can hear them). They have to work fast because they only have permission to keep the interstate closed for 5 days after the blast.
I-376 is slated to reopen on January 1 at 6:00am. The new bridge will take 18+ months to build.
Read more and see additional videos here at the Post-Gazette.
(photos from Pat Hassett, Geoff Campbell, Trinidad Regaspi and Kate St. John)
UPDATE DECEMBER 31, 2015: The cleanup finished ahead of schedule! The Parkway East opened INBOUND today at 2:00pm. OUTBOUND will reopen between 10:00pm and midnight because of another project down the road at the Birmingham Bridge.
Parkway East is all cleaned up, 31 Dec 2015, 8:30am (photo by Pat Hassett)