Wrecking ball malfunctions during California bridge demolition

Wrecking ball malfunctions during California bridge demolition

A crane's free fall function operated incorrectly during the demolition in Big Sur.

March 14, 2017
CDR Staff
Concrete and Aggregates Demolition Mixed C&D
A wrecking ball malfunctioned during the demolition of a bridge in Big Sur, California, a report by the Mercury News says. The wrecking ball hardly damaged the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge due to the crane’s free fall function incorrectly operating.

New parts for the crane were ordered and will arrive sometime soon with demolition resuming as soon as Wednesday, March 15, the report says. Crews have already disconnected the bridge’s metal railing to prepare for the demolition.

The plan was to drop the 6,000-pound wrecking ball onto the bridge rather than swing it with the crane’s 305-foot arm. According to the report, dropping the ball would avoid nearby power lines and would help tear down the bridge in a more structured and controlled way.

The wrecking ball was not able to hit the bridge hard enough, creating minor additional damage to the bridge. According to the report, the ball simply chipped away at some concrete and cracked parts of the structure.

The bridge was declared beyond repair Feb. 21 and needed to be removed and replaced. According to the report, fractures to the bridge and one of its support piers were first noticed in early February after a landslide caused damage to it.

Debris from the demolition should fall into the canyon below the bridge, where crews will break up the debris and ship it to a recycling facility.

The new bridge is designed to be a single-span steel plate girder bridge, the report says. It will have two abutments and no support piers in the slide area. According to the report, the first steel sections for the bridge are expected to arrive in May and construction should be completed in nine to 12 months.