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Crews Implode Greenfield Bridge Over The Parkway East

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Greenfield Bridge stood for more than 90 years, but Monday morning the historic span came tumbling down in just about nine seconds.

The Parkway East closed down on Sunday in anticipation of the event. Then, crews spent the rest of the weekend moving dirt onto the Parkway East for the debris to fall onto, as well as double checking the wiring for dynamite.

Just prior to the demolition, crews implemented what's called an "exclusion zone." People who live or work within the zone were asked to remain indoors and away from windows for the blast. The zone was about 800 feet around the site and was manned with Public Works crews and about 40 police officers.

At 7:30 a.m., crews were no longer allowing anyone near the site. Click here for more information about implosion day.

Just before the implosion at 9 a.m., Public Works Assistant Director Patrick Hassett said, "At the three minute mark, there will be three loud air blast horns designating the beginning of the countdown. At the one minute mark, all police and Public Safety vehicles in the area will sound their sirens for 15 seconds."

KDKA's John Shumway Reports:

And just after 9 a.m. Monday, the explosives were detonated.

"It wasn't as loud as I thought it was going to be, but it was fun," said Sally Scheidlmeier, the Pittsburgh woman who had the honor of pushing the plunger to set off the implosion.

Local Woman Pushes Implosion Plunger:

The weather was a big concern for crews.

"The real concern is the ceiling, the cloud ceiling, and right now the weather forecast is 1500-foot ceiling and anything about 1,000 foot is fine," said Tom Predis, the blast zone coordinator.

But officials say the demolition was efficient. The bridge detonations went off exactly as planned from the center out, and the span also fell towards the center or directly down as it was supposed to.

However, Kesco's Tom Predis, who was the blast zone coordinator, said, "On the north side, we had two columns - instead of toppling - they slid down the hill, but that's the way things go."

It turns out all of the columns explosives went off, but the cuts in the steel on the north side of the bridge were two deep, so rather than the steel helping pull the columns down, the steel snapped and the north side stayed in place.

City Officials Hold News Conference:

Bridge Implosion Web Extras:


Mosites crews then went to work on the pile of rubble and pushed the rest of the span down a little after 12:30 p.m., and now a full scale assault on the bones of the bridge is underway.

"You can kind of see that there is different layers. There is steel on top of pulverized concrete on top of steel on top of fill. So it's more of a process of getting the different layers moved around," said Derrick Jeannerette, of Mosites Construction. "We've got scrape dumpsters here that we've got to get filled up. It's more of moving different layers of materials to different positions."

An around-the-clock process will get the steel out of the area and the concrete off to the side, but the contractor isn't promising it will be done by New Year's Eve.

"Right now, they have to be at 6 a.m. on Friday morning," said Pittsburgh Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa.

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Costa joined the KDKA Morning News early Monday morning and said they were on schedule for a 9 a.m. demolition. Costa says if anything had happened to delay the implosion, they had a larger time frame.

"We have a window till 4 p.m., it's going to be done [Monday]," he says.

Click here for much more information on the Greenfield Bridge Project.

Greenfield Bridge History & Facts:

KDKA's Amy Wadas Reports:

Here are the detours you can use to get around the Parkway East closure this week while crews clean up.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Outbound closures will begin at the Oakland exit. That means you'll have to get off on Forbes Avenue and wind your way through Oakland to Penn Avenue. You'll get back on the Parkway in Squirrel Hill just before the tunnels.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

For those of you heading into the city, you must get off the Wilkinsburg exit to Ardmore Boulevard, which then turns into Penn Avenue. You'll follow that to Fifth Avenue through Oakland onto the Boulevard of the allies and back onto the Parkway.

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