Iconic cooling towers on Jacksonville's Northside to be imploded

JEA: Demolition of St. Johns River Power Park to cost $68M

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The two iconic cooling towers on Jacksonville's Northside that were shut down by JEA and Florida Power & Light in January will be imploded June 16.

Before the cooling towers at St. Johns River Power Park on New Berlin Road, off Heckscher Drive, will be blown up simultaneously by Total Wrecking that Saturday morning, News4Jax was allowed at the towers Friday as crews prepared for them to come down. 

Jacksonville likes to blow things up. In 2003, it was the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum and, in 1992, the old Acosta Bridge. In 2002, JEA imploded the Southside generating station.

Now JEA is at it again. Built in the 1980s, the cooling towers cost $1.6 billion. JEA admitted it’s cheaper to blow them up than keep them running.

According to JEA, the demolition of the park is estimated to cost a total of $68 million, which includes $14.5 million going toward the demolition company's contract, as well as money for the cleanup and closing of the landfill next to the towers.

On Friday, crews were preparing the site, drilling 3,800 holes into the walls where the dynamite will be placed. Two miles of detonation cord had been laid across the area.

PHOTOS: Crews prepare to bring cooling towers down

"We got 1,500 pounds of dynamite going in the holes," said Frank Bodami with Total Wrecking & Environmental. "It's a pretty simple task when you got good people on your team."

The minute that dynamite is set off at one tower, both towers will come down at the same time and collapse on top of each other. Bodami said all that will happen in about 12 seconds. 

"It will be somewhat loud and exciting -- Hollywood-like," he said.

Once the towers are down, the rubble won't be wasted, as 99 percent of the debris will be recycled. 

News4Jax will carry the implosion, which is planned for 8 a.m. June 16, live on Channel 4 and online.

There is no designated public viewing area for the implosion, but several public areas throughout north Jacksonville provide a good view of the towers. Residents are encouraged to consider safety first in considering any viewing location, JEA officials said.

As a precaution during the event, JEA will be required to detour traffic temporarily along New Berlin Road from Faye Road to Port Jacksonville Parkway from 6:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. on June 16. Residents and businesses that reside within the closed area of Faye Road will be allowed access to their properties once passing through Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office (JSO) checkpoints.

The demolition company has partnered with Dreams Come True to auction off the privilege to push the plunger to begin the explosion.

The rest of the plant and generating station will be dismantled and imploded in 2019.

Anyone with questions or concerns about the implosion event can contact JEA’s Project Outreach team at 904-665-7500 or projectoutreach@jea.com.

About the Author: