How Does Bridge Demolition Work?

(3-min read)

Due to their essential role in transportation as well as elevated construction, bridge demolition is one of the more complex forms of demolition practiced today. Due to the many variables, no two bridge demolition projects are the same. Let’s take a look at the different styles

Various Bridge Demolition Methods

Bridge Support Bursting

Some bridges are demolished via a form of chemical or pressure-based demolition called “bursting.” As we’ve covered about chemical demolition before, chemical agents are used in deteriorating the structural integrity of concrete bridges. As these supports are weakened, the concrete columns are easier to demolish through other means further. The lack of tooling makes this method among the quietest bridge demolition techniques. This category also encompasses pressure-based demolition methods. Because caustic chemicals are used in this process, this practice is subject to extensive oversight and caution. 

Hydraulic Breaking

Much like demolishing higher structures, hydraulic breaking utilizes machine-mounted hydraulic hammers. These hammers can target specific areas of a bridge in need of removal while leaving other elements relatively undamaged. Due to the use of hydraulic jackhammers, this technique may result in excess dust, noise, and intense vibrations. Falling elements from this method can also make over-water bridge demolition somewhat more complicated. Despite this, hydraulic breaking remains a popular compromise between noise, dust, and efficient bridge demolition. 

Bridge Dismantling

Due to its relatively low-impact and precision work, bridge dismantling is among the most popular bridge demolition techniques for higher population areas. A variety of saws and thermal cutting tools are used to slice masonry and metal elements for easier removal. The more precise nature of this technique results in less noise, dust, and pollution due to debris. The required precision of this form of bridge demolition requires the utmost skill and professionalism from saw and cutting torch operators.

Explosive Demolition

One of the most efficient forms of bridge demolition utilizes explosive charges. These charges are strategically placed on load-bearing components of the bridge to result in the collapse of the bridge structure. This method isn’t used as regularly in densely populated areas due to the immense noise, debris, and dust generated by the series of blasts needed to demolish a bridge structure. It is, however, immensely useful for instances when speedier demolitions are necessary—such as for bridges over roadways immense daily traffic.


For both residential and commercial demolition services in Tulsa, Oklahoma and beyond, look no further than the demolish experts of DT Specialized Services.