A new bridge spans the Missouri River at Rulo.
So, the old bridge is coming down.
Preliminary work on the $1.73 million demolition project has already been completed.
Mike Habegger with the Nebraska Department of Roads says it takes much preparation and will take much care to bring down a 74-year-old landmark, without making a much of a splash.
“We started a couple of weeks ago. They had the full depths saw-cut, the old deck; the concrete bridge deck. Right now, we’re in the process of removing that. That has to all be removed. Nothing can go down into the river,” Habegger tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KTNC.
This isn’t any old bridge.
The structure, built in late 1939 as a Works Progress Administration project, appeared in the movie “Paper Moon” which helped it land on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. It also was featured on the BBC series “Stephen Fry in America”.
A new bridge has been built to connect southeastern Nebraska to northwestern Missouri at a cost of $25.7 million. Though the old bridge carried a lot of history, it couldn’t carry modern traffic, including large agricultural rigs. The new bridge can.
Habegger says the demolition will unfold from the Nebraska side to the Missouri side in a series of blasts.
“It comes down kind of like a loaf of bread. It comes down in slices. It looks like one big piece, but when it comes down, it’s all cut up,” Habegger explains.
Care will be taken to keep the structure from splashing into the Missouri River. The center section will drop into the navigation channel to be removed by barges and tugboats.
It actually took three years to build the new bridge after a massive letter-writing campaign from three states got the project started.
John Nixon, KTNC, contributed to this story.