By GARY POPP
Officials with the east-end crossing for the Ohio River Bridges Project gave a public presentation in Utica Wednesday evening to alert area residents to the blasting that will be taking place during the construction of the bridge project.
The series of blastings, which will be done in phases, is expected to begin in Indiana in the late summer or early fall. Blastings are scheduled to begin in June on the Kentucky portion of the project.
The blastings could continue until the summer of 2016, leading to the expected completion of the project the following October.
Indiana Department of Transportation Project Manager Ron Heustis said the blasting should not be a cause of alarm for Utica residents.
“There is rock very close to the surface [of the ground] throughout most of the east-end crossing, so to excavate that to make [space] for the roadway, we have to do blasting,” Heustis said. “It [the blastings] is off and on throughout the length of the project.”
Heustis said the blasting will take place wherever the excavation meets rock.
“Most of it is to take off the crests [on] a lot of the hillsides in order to level out a roadway,” he said. “Some places you are blasting out rock to excavate it, and other places you will be taking what you removed and putting in a low area to fill to help even out the grade.”
Heustis said there will be several hundred “very rapid blasts” during the course of construction.
Officials have designated a 500-foot radius around each of the blasts sites. They will conduct pre- and post-blasting surveys on residential and business structures that fall into the zone to monitor any possible damage resulting from the explosions.
“The actual effects of any typical blasts are much closer than that, about a 200-foot range, as far as vibration and air blasts,” Heustis said. “The anticipation is that there won’t by any damage — that there really isn’t any hazard.”
According to documents provided during the presentation held at the John Nobel Woods Utica Community Center, about 150 structures fall within 500 feet of a blast site.
“There is no hazard to the public in this. We just want to make sure if a crack in a plaster wall happens, or if [there’s] a crack in somebody’s window, that we know about that and it is taken care of,” Heustis said. “This is not a hazard to be concerned about to leave your home during the blasting.”