Bridge blown up, to be built anew

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SEE THE VIDEO: State highway authorities had their cameras out over the weekend when they blew up a bridge on the E18 highway that collapsed in a landslide earlier this month. They now hope to reopen a bridge that parallels the damaged bridge to two-way traffic as soon as possible.

The highway department's video of their "controlled" bridge explosion also offers some unique views of the surrounding countryside. PHOTO: Statens vegvesen

The highway department’s video of their “controlled” bridge explosion also offers some unique views of the surrounding countryside. This photo is looking north along the E18 highway that runs east of the Vestfold city of Holmestrand. PHOTO: Orbiton/Statens vegvesen

The state highway department Statens vegvesen conducted what it called a “controlled explosion” Saturday afternoon, after cordoning off the area for safety reasons. The two southbound lanes of the relatively new four-lane E18 highway collapsed on Monday February 3 in a freak accident that immediately forced its closure.

State officials, backed by the government, quickly decided that the damaged bridge needed to be razed and rebuilt. They won approval to bypass the time-consuming public bidding process for the job, to get it done as soon as possible. The actual explosion occurred shortly after 2pm and Statens vegvesen used a drone to film the collapse of the bridge in a video that also shows unique aerial footage of the surrounding area of Vestfold County, southwest of Oslo.

The video can be viewed here (external link). Statens vegvesen also had a camera on the ground that captured pictures, albeit shaky, of the bridge giving way. Both videos can also be viewed on the highway department’s own website here (external link, text in Norwegian).

Officials were pleased by the results of the explosion at the bridge called Skjeggestad bru, near Holmestrand. “It all went very well,” said project leader Arvid Veseth of Statens vegvesen. “Now we need to examine the condition of the remaining (parallel) bridge and the stability of the ground under it.”

Veseth said the “first priority” will be to determine whether the two northbound lanes of the E18 over the bridge at Skjeggestad can be reopened to traffic to relieve congestion through the town of Holmestrand. The E18 is one of Norway’s most heavily trafficked highways and the bridge collapse has already led to major delays even before the busy summer tourist season begins.

The highway department said that 2,700 tons of concrete crashed down when the bridge was blown up. In order to spare the ground under it, the bridge landed on 2,000 square meters of Leca blocks spread on top of the underlying clay.

The bridge will be reconstructed but highway officials still can’t say how long the process will take. “First we have to evaluate what we can re-use of the old bridge’s foundation and pillars,” Veseth said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund