Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge is Making Headway

Nov. 30, 2022
The Fern Hollow Bridge should be ready before Christmas

Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge that collapsed back in January as President Biden was visiting the city is making significant process in a short amount of time.

Now, almost a year later after the collapse, grants from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) are helping rebuild the bridge.

"Without the infrastructure bill, I'm not sure if this project would have been rebuilt or when," said Cheryl Moon-Sirianni, district executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 11. "It may have been a couple years, or another project somewhere else would have been sacrificed, so we are very fortunate that the bill passed."

Moon-Sirianni explained the money was not used directly from the bill, but instead, funds allocated for another bridge are helping to rebuild the Fern Hollow Bridge, adding that the money will be replaced from the IIJA.

Moon-Sirianni says she hopes the cost of the project is under $25 million.

According to Moon-Sirianni, the project has one of the best bridge design firms in the country, HDR, Inc., and one of the best contracting companies in the region, Swank Construction Company, LLC. They are working with the city of Pittsburgh's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, as well as PennDOT, to quickly build a bridge they said will last a century.

"I'm so grateful for the leadership that PennDOT is showing, and for their strategic partnership on this. They are really demonstrating what can happen when all forces are put in one place to make a project happen," said Kim Lucas, director of Pittsburgh's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.

In an interview with Pittsburgh's Action News 4, Moon-Sirianni said "We really cut a lot of time out through the design process. Normally, you have a very linear process that starts with investigation preliminary engineering, final design, then it goes out to bid. Those steps were all combined, and we selected a contractor and a consultant the same day."

The design process cut out roughly three years.

Eric Setzler, the chief engineer for the city's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, is watching what he envisioned become reality and is confident the bridge will be safe.

"This bridge, like any new bridge we build, meets all the modern safety standards, the modern design look. It's designed for today's traffic. It's designed really for 100-year life,” Setzler said.

PennDOT said materials have been tested and approved, hillsides have been analyzed and proper safety protocols have been met. Crews will install steel railings, and the roads leading to the span are getting their own makeovers.

Next year, a pedestrian crossway and other beautification portions near Frick Park will begin.

Moon-Sirianni said the goal is to have two lanes of the four-lane bridge open by the end of the year.

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Source: WTAE Pittsburgh