Media and spectators await the explosion of the old Madison-Milton Bridge this morning. Joe and Ann Weber, below, take a look at the old bridge through binoculars  as they wait for the blast. The Webers grew up in Madison but now live in Carrollton. (Staff photos by Seth Grundhoefer)
Media and spectators await the explosion of the old Madison-Milton Bridge this morning. Joe and Ann Weber, below, take a look at the old bridge through binoculars as they wait for the blast. The Webers grew up in Madison but now live in Carrollton. (Staff photos by Seth Grundhoefer)
Armed with binoculars, Carrollton couple Joe and Ann Weber joined scores of spectators at the Madison campground this morning to give a final sendoff to a piece of local history.

"It's kind of neat because both our parents saw it built and we'll see it destroyed," said Joe Weber, about 30 minutes before a 700-foot span of the old Madison-Milton Bridge was blasted into the Ohio River.

The blast will be the first of two or three before the new bridge is slid into place.

The controlled explosion did not make a clean break, however, as a small portion of the span toward the Milton side of the river was still attached.

The U.S. Coast Guard has given workers a 24-hour window to clean the debris from the river. Road traffic was expected to reopen around 11 a.m.

Nearly every onlooker on the riverfront came with cameras or video cameras to document the event. They also came with plenty of memories.

Ann Weber said she remembers driving across the bridge from Madison to Carrollton shortly after she first earned her license - something her parents had instructed her not to do.

"It scared me to death," she said. "It seemed like the largest bridge in the world."

Jerry Kent drove from Aurora, Ind., early today to watch the blast. Kent worked for a power plant in Lawrenceburg, but describes himself as a "builder."

And it was the builder in him that piqued his curiosity in the bridge project.

"I've been following it since Day 1," he said.

Not far from Kent, Mike Brand, of Middletown Ohio, sat with his video camera ready to capture the explosion.

Brand said he took the day off of work to watch the span come down.

"It's not every day that you get to see a 700-foot stretch of bridge get blasted into the river," he said.

The next blast is scheduled for next week, though officials have not announced a specific time or date.