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Ogdensburg bridge dismantling under way

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The former Lake Street pedestrian bridge in Ogdensburg is coming apart.

According to plan, that is.

Contractors last week began breaking up and removing 1,200 tons of asphalt, dirt and brick base that covers the 300-ton steel foundation of the century-old span over the Oswegatchie River.

Meanwhile, construction of its nearby 400-foot-long replacement is on schedule for opening to the public in mid-August.

The new span’s underside has already been fitted with sewer and water lines that are operating.

“We’re right on schedule,” said Kit W. Smith, the city’s public works director.

Mr. Smith said Wednesday that 600 tons of base have been removed so far by the $1.5 million project’s general contractor, Tuscarora Contracting, Pulaski.

Tuscarora Superintendent Leonard Gallo said it will take his workers three weeks to remove the base and another three weeks to dismantle the steel foundation piece by piece.

Next up then for removal will be the span’s concrete center pier.

“Which is the real challenge,” Mr. Gallo said Wednesday.

The 16-foot-high pier - half submerged, half above water- will be dismantled with a water-mixed chemical called dynamit that will be put into 100 holes that will be drilled into the pier over a three-week period.

There is no explosion, only a gradual expansion and breaking up of the concrete.

“It takes about 12 hours for it to react,” Mr. Gallo.

The contractors will work from a specially-constructed platform that will be placed alongside the pier.

On a difficulty scale of one to 10, Mr. Gallo gives the Lake Street project an eight.

“It’s not the hardest project, but it’s not the easiest, either,” he said.

Mr. Smith said that the new bridge’s official opening will be preceded by a dedication ceremony in July and, possibly, limited public access.

The bridge will connect the city’s marina district to downtown.

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