Dam blast marks the beginning of new chapter in Columbus rafting

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Several area residents gathered down on the Riverfront to watch a piece of Columbus's history crashing down in seconds as crews made way for the Whitewater Project.

Around 2:30 pm 50-feet of the Eagle and Phenix Dam on the Alabama side was blasted away into the water. Dirt and rocks quickly ran though the new opening as the crowd cheered.

There will be two more phases to be taken out, the second phase will be the portion in the middle which is expected to be blasted in the next few days.

John Turner, the President of the Chattahoochee River Restoration Committee, said Wednesday was a day no one has ever seen before.

"We've been working on this project for twelve years and we've studied the river, but we haven't seen really what's behind that dam and that's pretty exciting," says Turner.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson set off one of the symbolic detonators and she said it was a little emotional seeing the new change to the river.

"It's going to have people all up and down it here to watch the kayakers coming down, engaging in water sports and loving the river." says Mayor Tomlinson

It's estimated the whitewater course will bring in $42 million a year annually and it will be the largest urban course in the world.

The dam's next explosion is believed to be Sunday. The entire dam is expected to be completely removed by the end of the summer.

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