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"Munchers" Attack

Mechanical monsters begin to tear apart the old Wilson Bridge.

This is no cookie monster. But, it is a monster. And, it began munching on a daily diet of concrete supplied by its special delicatessen — otherwise known as the "old" Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

The thunderous noise which awoke residents of south Old Town on Monday morning was contractors breaking apart the concrete and steel of the bridge. Mammoth machines with hydraulic jaws, called "munchers," and hoe rams are tearing the old bridge into small pieces. Those small pieces are being loaded onto tractor trailer trucks and hauled away, according to Michelle Holland, spokesperson for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project.

"The contractor expects to have a "crusher" on site later this week in order to break pieces of the bridge deck into even smaller pieces, similar to the size of crushed gravel, before hauling it away," she said.

In order to alleviate dust, the work area is being continuously watered during demolition. These efforts have proven very successful thus far, according to Holland.

Simultaneously, work is underway to remove the old draw span portion of the bridge. Crews are cutting large pieces of the drawbridge by using cutting torches, concrete saws and hoe rams. barges then remove the pieces fo the draw span.

Once the bridge surface is totally removed the steel support beams will be cut at strategic points by linear cutting charges and detonation cord, and dropped to the ground in a single event. That is now scheduled for the night of August 31, near midnight.

Placement and detonation of the cutting charges will be controlled by highly trained and certified demolition experts, experienced in demolition of large bridges in urban areas, according to Project personnel. The steel beams will be hauled away on tractor trailers.