Explosions signify causeway progress

February 10, 2008 3:57:59 PM PST
A number of blasts in the name of progress. The Galveston Causeway is a few months away from completing its extreme makeover. The Galveston Causeway's facelift started about a year and a half ago with as much energy as explosives. And now, the construction is entering the home stretch.

The signs have been around for days, and by morning's light, the effort to ease causeway traffic and please the motorists who use it took another step. With a thunderous blast and chunks of concrete and metal raining down after years of worthy service, another section of the Galveston Causeway exploded for the 11th time.

"We had about a thousand pounds today that we set off in 10 different piers," said Alan Thompson with the demolition crew. "So that's about 100 pounds in each pier."

The momentum of progress did bring traffic to a standstill for about 35 minutes. Early morning fog delayed the blast and bay water conditions have pushed back the completion date by a couple of months.

"We are now just finishing up the old portion of what used to be the northbound bridge," said Thompson.

The reason for the delay has to do with the shallow bay. Deeper waters were allowing big barges to remove debris at a hasty pace. But now smaller craft and vehicles have to move the rubble with more trips and in smaller loads. Costs have also gone up with the rising price of steel for the new sections.

Still, there's only one more demolition required to clear the remaining 400 feet of bridge.

"We're almost on the north bank," said Thompson. "We got one more shot to do."

The Galveston Causeway project has been environmentally friendly, with a Houston-based company grinding the old concrete to be used as future recycled material. The entire construction project is expected to be finished in October.

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