Blasting completed for new bridge work

There were no explosions in the sky, smoke on the water, or great balls of fire.

There was a slight rumble, a slight tremor, and then... Just a pile of rocks.

Last week, Controlled Blasting Services (CBS) of Maryville turned about 6,000-square cubic yards of limestone into small rocks suitable for removing.

The blasting took place on the South Clinton side of the Lewallen Bridge, almost directly across from Advanced Auto Parts

CBS owner Jim Milsaps said the blasting was completed with two “shots,” and took five days to complete. Three of those days were spent drilling holes in the limestone to place sticks of dynamite.

Three weeks before the blasting took place Milsaps’ company subcontracted a seismologist to make sure the site was safe for blasting. Once he received the okay, planning began.

The first shot was Tuesday when 2,000 pounds of dynamite was used in 78 holes. The second shot was set off Thursday using a little more than 1,000 pounds of dynamite in 58 holes.

“It was pretty much perfect,” Milsaps said. “We achieved good fragmentation of the rock.

“Though I’m not used to working in front of a crowd.”

Milsaps said he knew word had leaked out about Thursday’s blast when, “You see Momma get out of the car with her three-year-old to watch the show. Seems like everybody and their brother knew about the second shot.”

Milsaps said there usually is not much of a show to watch. “You feel a little tremor and then folks are asking, ‘Is that it?’” he laughed.

Still, Milsaps said having spectators kinda puts an edge on any job. “You’re just not used to it. I’ve done this for 20 years and you get used to having one or two people, maybe a media person — a photographer, cameraman, whatever — but I usually don’t draw a crowd.”

While the shots are almost anti-climatic — almost subdued — there is still an element of danger.

Milsaps said each stick of dynamite has the energy of 72 million horsepower.

“The closest thing to that, man-made, is probably a liquid fuel rocket they use on space shuttles. Those have 36 million horsepower,” Milaps said.

Milsaps said there was one other instance where he did a job and a large crowd showed up: Blasting for the Kroger site in Oak Ridge.

“I think the city sent out a robo call telling everyone about the blast. I bet there were 100 people across the street at a car dealership,” he said.