Redwood bridge is falling down|Dynamited middle span tumbles into Yazoo River

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The center of the bridge linking Warren County and the Mississippi Delta for more than a half-century came down in seconds this morning, crashing into the Yazoo River below.

Scroll down to view video of the Yazoo River Bridge demolition.

Bottom video courtesy of Adam Boggan

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Closed to traffic since its newly built neighboring bridge opened in April, the old bridge’s tallest section was dynamited after removal of its approaches and roadbed.

Some had seen it before.

“That’s my third bridge,” said Bill Field Sr., one of about 75 people who gathered on the edges of the Mississippi 3 flyover above U.S. 61, pointing to the new crossing, which has no superstructure. In 1950, the bridge blown up at 7:50 a.m. replaced one demolished a few miles upriver. “They took the first one out the same way,” Field said.

The blast was fueled by packets of explosives placed at strategic points by contractor Key Constructors. Left standing are the ends of the bridge, expected to come down this week after debris is pulled from the river below.

While there was no public announcement of the blast, word did get around. Onlookers came ready with video equipment and digital cameras for the event, which lasted mere seconds.

“I just about missed it and it’s just about gone,” said Tim Thorpe, just before a quick cup of the hand against the playback screen on his camera. “Oh, yeah, I got it!”

Some showed up at the last minute.

“The lady who cleans my house lives over here in Redwood told me about it,” said E.C. Burkhardt. “They had taken the other one down many years ago.”

Mississippi Department of Transportation District 3 Engineer Kevin Magee said the operation appeared to go well, slicing the center section “like bread” as planned. Traffic on U.S. 61 was halted briefly before and after the blast so there would be no traffic on the new span. Boats on the Yazoo were halted for a time today as crews cleared the waterway, a process Magee said involves preattached cables so steel beams can be pulled from the river.

The new, 1,300-foot bridge has two 12-foot lanes and is 40 feet from side to side, which is 14 feet wider than the old one. A pair of 8-foot shoulders flank each lane, unlike the old bridge which had no relief lanes. While an essential crossing for countless vehicles during its 59 years, the old bridge was also an impediment. The superstructure had a low clearance, presenting a problem for log trucks, farm equipment and other tall vehicles through the years.

“It was the most cost-effective way to build a bridge at that time,” Magee said of the signature design of the old bridge, adding the availability of steel in past decades made for a generation of similar-looking river crossings.

The mostly federally funded project to build the new bridge and take down the old one began in 2006 and totaled $33.5 million.

U.S. 61 changes at the bridge from a two-lane highway through most of the Delta to a four-lane highway most of the way to the Louisiana line. Adding another two-lane bridge across the Yazoo and four-laning toward Memphis remain as projects for the future, depending on traffic loads.

U.S. 61 North between Interstate 20 and Redwood was resurfaced and re-striped in 2008.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at