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Controlled blast brings down Hooksett's Lilac Bridge

Union Leader Correspondent

July 07. 2017 7:37PM
Smoke engulfs the bridge as debris flies through the air during the demolition of the Lilac Bridge in Hooksett on Friday, July 7, 2017. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

HOOKSETT — Lilac Bridge came falling down Friday afternoon.

The bridge came down after a controlled blast that lasted seconds following weeks of preparation for the big event.

Roads surrounding the bridge were blocked off for under an hour as crews readied and cleaned up after the blast. Dozens gathered at Lambert’s Park just up the road to try to catch a glimpse of the blast.

Afterwards, many headed out to the neighboring railroad trestle to look down at the chunks of steel floating on the tarp set up to catch the falling debris. Pieces of steel and wood were split up into huge sections, some still balanced on the rock support beams that have held up the structure for decades.

Crews will now spend the next few weeks removing these chunks from the water to make room for the new bridge that will be built over the summer and into the fall.

The bridge had been closed for decades, and workers had been preparing it for demolition.

Resident Michael Eglody watched from his dock on the Merrimack River and described the events as “very cool”. A neighbor brought over a piece of the blast mat to show him.

Eglody said he had been looking forward for the day to come.

“It’s been in the news for a while that they were taking down the bridge,” he said.

VIDEO: Correspondent Melissa Proulx captures the demolition

Built in 1909, the bridge stretched across the Merrimack River, connecting Riverside Street and Veterans Drive. The Pratt Truss highway bridge was built by John Stoors, a well-known engineer who worked in New Hampshire and neighboring states.

In April 2016, the town put the bridge out for bid in order to attempt to preserve it, as required by the state. Only one company bid on the structure, but withdrew its application this past spring.

Construction will soon begin on a new footbridge that will span across the river and mirror the shape of the Lilac Bridge. That work is expected to wrap up in October. In all, the entire project is expected to cost about $3.3 million.

Eglody said he feels indifferent about the new pedestrian bridge.

“I don’t know if I want all that traffic coming in front of my house,” he said.


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