Vector, NYSDOT Bridge Hoxie Gorge

Story by Matthew Phair | September 28, 2010

Bridge and trouble seem to have been two words that keep showing up together in the general news media recently. In Marathon, N.Y., however, the news is nothing but good.

On track for a December 2007 completion is the replacement of two steel arch bridges on I -81. Approximately 700 feet long and 150 feet high, the rusting steel hulks built in 1964 and 1965 were given the nod for replacement earlier in the decade and are now coming to completion.

Beginning in 2005, general contractor Vector Construction of Syracuse began the $16-million project creating the new southbound span.

The project consists of replacing both the northbound and southbound bridges that carry I-81 over Hoxie Gorge Road and Hoxie Gorge Creek. A new southbound bridge was first installed between the two existing bridges, and the southbound roadway will be permanently realigned to meet the new bridge. The northbound bridge was then replaced in its existing location, after the existing steel bridge was demolished and removed.

Construction of this $16-million project is scheduled to be completed by December 2007.

Based in Cicero, N.Y., the general contractor on the project is Vector Construction, led by President Richard P. Andersen. The $12-million/year firm specializes in bridge and tunnel work and was founded in 1963.

Protec Documentation Services of Port Monmouth is providing monitoring and inspection services on the project. Jeff Chambers of Protec monitored and photographed the arch demolition.


According the local news reports, it took 97 pounds of explosives to demolish sections of the old Hoxie Gorge Bridge on Route 81 in Marathon. The old steel structure was built more than 30 years ago.

"We used a little bit of dynamite for what we call kicker charges to kick some steel plates out there. We used something called a linear shape charge. It's a military type of explosive that is very technical," demolition leader Scott Gustafson said. He runs Demtech, the Dubois, Wyo.-based firm that will down both spans.

Gustafson is one of the industry's most respected demolition experts, whose experience dates back to 1970. Prior to incorporating Demtech in 1986, Gustafson owned and managed Wayne Drilling and Blasting, Inc., performing explosive demolition work and various types of construction-related blasting (trench work, foundations, site preparation, and road cuts). He currently oversees operations from the company's headquarters in Dubois, Wyoming.

Over the past several decades, the Demtech team has explosively demolished structures in almost every state in the United States, as well the Dutch Antilles, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Mexico, Canada, Korea, and Kazakhstan. Some of their previous work stands out for particular mention includes 350 Minuteman II Nuclear Missile Silos (Ellisworth, Whiteman & Grand Forks AFB); the Largest Over Deck Truss Bridge (Clays Ferry, Ky.); and the Largest Verticle Lift Bridge Largest Lock and Dam in the United States (Alton, Ill).