A 92-year-old bridge over the Cumberland River at Smithland, Ky., was successfully imploded November 30.
Known as the Old U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge or the Lucy Jefferson Lewis Memorial Bridge, the bridge at Cumberland River Mile 2.7 opened to traffic in 1931.
The river was closed to navigation at 8 a.m. November 30 and was expected to remain closed for 36 hours, until 8 p.m. December 1, to allow a barge-mounted crane to remove pieces of the steel truss from the river.
Crowds gathered at nearby viewing points before the initial blast took down the main truss and two approach spans after a 3-2-1 countdown. Two additional blasts will be scheduled at about two-week intervals to take down remnants of the old bridge, including the concrete piers and concrete abutments.
When the bridge first opened, the original toll for a passenger vehicle was 25 cents, according to the Kentucky Department of Highways. Trucks cost 50 cents, and livestock crossing on the hoof was tolled 5 cents a head.
The bridge was 1,817 feet long with a 500-foot main truss. It was constructed with very little power equipment. Most of the steel was lifted into place by construction workers using block and tackle.
Vehicle traffic moved to a new bridge, constructed alongside the old one, on May 15. The new bridge is known as the Jim R. Smith Memorial Bridge. It is 1,912 feet long and has a 700-foot main truss and 40-foot wide deck. The project was constructed by Jim Smith Contracting of Grand Rivers, Ky. The truss for the new bridge was assembled at the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority and floated on barges via the Tennessee, Ohio and Cumberland rivers from Paducah to Smithland on November 12, 2022, before being lifted into place.
Caption for photo: Explosive charges take down the 1931 Old U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge at Smithland, Ky., on November 30. Traffic moved to the new, blue bridge alongside it in May. (photo by Keith Todd/Kentucky Department of Highways)