The bridge, built in 1997 and part of the National Highway 318, was deemed far too small to service the huge number of cars that pass through every day. It is one of the main routes that run from the major cities of Shanghai to Tibet, making it a vital artery in the country’s transport network. It will now change from a four lane dual carriageway to a huge six lane highway to accommodate China’s rapidly growing car population. This new road will also be about one mile longer.
The size and length of the bridge apparently posed a great many problems for the specialists at the Wuhan Demolition Engineering Company. Although when it came down to it, the destruction of the 2.2 mile bridge took just seconds. A series of many explosions, emanating from the mid-point of the bridge outwards, made short work of the 15 year old foundations.
A major concern for demolition jobs that cover a wide area is, of course, the dust that is produced. Crumbling concrete can easily produce huge clouds that could potentially cover a large area. Not only would this require a large clean-up effort, but dust can be harmful when inhaled. This is a concern for many people, not just those involved in large-scale demolitions, especially when the components of a structure are not known. Sanding walls can be hazardous at home, which is why places like the Anglia Tool Centre sell all manner of dust masks.
In order to minimize the dust risk, large amounts of water and fabric aprons were used. As an explosion happens, the bags of water are torn apart, sending mist everywhere. This mist then absorbs the majority of the dust, preventing clouds from forming.
The location of the bridge is likely to have posed the greatest challenge. Immediately on either side of the structure are busy residential areas so flying debris could have potentially posed a major hazard. All of the bridge supports were therefore wrapped with wire, fabric and sand bags in order to contain the explosion as much as possible. Being located in a residential area also meant that the bridge was accompanied with several 100,000 volt wires and well over 30 different pipelines that run underground. Extreme care had to be taken to ensure none of these were disrupted, especially the main gas pipeline that connects either side of China.
This was certainly a very impressive demolition, and while there were many difficulties for the authorities involved, the process went off without a hitch while most of China was sleeping. It’s not often we get to see such a long structure flattened.
Peter Whitelaw is a freelance writer and machining enthusiast who enjoys writing about various aspects of construction, industry and demolition topics, on the behalf of a number of websites he assists.