Given the fevered pace of China's infrastructure development, 16 years is ancient. That's why the two-lane concrete Zhuan-yang viaduct running through the town of Wuhan, Hubei in central China had to go—a bigger and better six-lane freeway was in the works. But to demolish the original roadway without harming the surrounding homes, engineers smothered the blast under a blanket.
The surrounding neighborhood tightly packed in around the viaduct wasn't the only concern for engineers in determining how to best bring down the structure—major, 100,000V power transmission lines, 30 local gas lines and the main national East-West gas pipeline ran underground parallel to the road as well. One misplaced stick of dynamite would sever power and light the area up like a giant Bunsen burner.
To prevent collateral damage along the 2.2 mile bridge—the longest longest reinforced concrete bridge demolition project ever attempted in China—engineers swaddled the Zhuan-yang viaduct with a cloth wrapper, secured it with wire then reinforced the covering with large water-filled bladders and sandbags. This wrapping prevented hunks of viaduct from exploding through surrounding homes and kept dust to a minimum as the structure fell, while the sandbags and bladders absorbed and dampened some of the blast's energy and noise.