We here at Construction Junkie headquarters enjoy a good demolition video. We’ve shared implosion videos, timelapse videos, and even demolition fails, but since our inception, we have yet to share a wrecking ball demolition video. Growing up, I thought my adult life was going to be littered with wrecking balls (and anvils, for that matter), because of all the cartoons I watched, but as our industry’s heavy machinery and explosives have become more precise, the need for wrecking balls has slowly diminished.
BUT FEAR NOT, that all ends today, thanks to the city of Bath, Maine. The Route 1 viaduct, which has stood in Bath for about 59 years, has seen its final days and is in process of being torn down. It spans over 1,300 feet in total overtop of local Bath streets, carrying an average of 30,000 vehicles per day. Much to the chagrin of the residents who use the bridge or live near it, it will take nearly 8 months to tear the existing bridge down and replace it with the new one. That means 8 months of bad traffic and tons of noise. Officially, work began in May of 2016, but the viaduct remained open until October.
According to WSCH 6, the original bridge took 720 days to build, but contractors will only have 220 days to completely replace it. That’s a significant improvement but many DOTs around the country and cities around the world are embracing more pre-fabricated designs to greatly reduce the impact to traffic and local business. For instance, the Connecticut DOT found a way to reduce a 2 year bridge replacement down to 28 days of traffic interruption. That’s something I think we can all get behind, as working more offsite keeps workers much safer.
On Tuesday night, another portion of Route 1 was taken down by our old friend, the wrecking ball. In a video shared to Facebook by the Bath Police Department, you can see three powerful strikes to the already weakened section. I would hate to live near this area, but I love watching the video.
In January of 2018, ten construction workers were killed and another eight were injured when a bridge spanning the Chirajara canyon in Columbia partially collapsed. That collapse has since been blamed on a poor design, reports have stated. Last week, the remaining sections of the bridge were demolished in dramatic fashion.
A couple weeks ago, we shared a list of the 100 tallest buildings to ever be demolished. One of the most interesting things that I learned while researching for that article was that although Detroit’s Greater Department Hudson Store was not the tallest building on the list (it was #21), it was the tallest on the list to actually be imploded.
In February, JP Morgan Chased announced their plans to demolish their current 52-story headquarters located in Manhattan. Turns out, when that demolition is complete, it will also break the record for the tallest building ever voluntarily demolished.
One thing’s for sure, the only thing better than one structure being demolished is two structures being demolished at the same time. Late last week, a decommissioned Florida Power Plant saw to the implosion of two 462 feet tall cooling towers in spectacular fashion.
Demolitions by implosion seems like the easiest way to knock down a structure, but there is so much preparation that goes into it that even the slightest mistake can have a huge impact. When smokestacks are demolished correctly, it can be a thing of beauty, like when these two silos in Scotland hit each other midair or when this asbestos filled stack was precisely demolished to fall into a pool of water. Things didn’t go so smoothly for demolition crews in Denmark last week, however.
As we’ve seen in the past, demolitions aren’t all about implosions. There are still many manual demolitions that are carried out by skilled excavator operators. The Victoria Street Bridge in Ontario, Canada is a recent example of that.
It’s been a while since we have shared a demolition video on Construction Junkie. We recently discussed a very high profile demolition project, the tallest voluntary demolition on record, which is schedule to start next year and how it is expected to happen, but no videos. Between the cold weather in most of the country and the general lack of interesting demolitions happening, it’s good to finally be back to feeling normal around here.
A couple weeks ago, JP Morgan Chase announced that they planned to demolish their existing 52-story Manhattan headquarters, which is believed to be the tallest voluntary demolition in history, in order to build a 70 story, 2.5 million square foot building in its place. The move left preservationists upset at the idea of scrapping the nearly 60 year old building and others wondering how exactly they were going to safely demolish a building that tall in such a congested and busy area.
This year saw more videos with environmental considerations taken into account, especially over waterways. Instead of imploding entire bridges, the part that spanned over top of the waterway were manually removed. I've also grown an appreciation for in-depth footage of demolitions that occurred under some interesting conditions. Some of the videos below show some extreme creativity to overcome obstacles.
On Sunday, demolition contractors tried to bring down the upper portion of the Pontiac Silverdome, former home to the Detroit Lions, but several of the explosives didn’t ignite and the structure was still upright after the smoke cleared. After videos of the failed demolition were posted online, the internet had a field day.