PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park is anticipated to reopen before the end of 2022, and possibly sometime next week, though there is still some work to finish before an opening date is set.
“We are anticipating a reopening by the end of the year, and perhaps before Christmas, but there is work that needs to be completed for that to occur, including bridge and pedestrian railing installation, lighting installation, and line painting,”Cowan said Wednesday.
The old Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed on January 28. Luckily there were no fatalities, however, there were 10 injuries from the collapse.
The replacement project is federally funded, and has a $25.3 million budget.
According to Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, an estimated 18,000 vehicles a day are being rerouted without the bridge open. This has caused significant congestion in the area, particularly on the Parkway East and Penn Avenue in Point Breeze.
Although there isn't a set date for the bridge to open, the bridge is anticipated to return faster than many think.
Reconstruction of the bridge was able to move so quickly thanks to emergency declarations from the city of Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania, said Cowan. He said the declarations “saved years in the project delivery process but has minimal impact on the actual construction.”
Cowan said constant collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), consultants, the contractor, the city of Pittsburgh and other agencies have ensured that design and construction was done simultaneously.
Several 150-foot-long concrete beams were used to reconstruct the bridge. They are the largest concrete beams PennDOT has ever used.
Cowan said that even though the design and construction process were done quicker than usual, every safety standard was met for the new Fern Hollow Bridge.
“In addition, conservative design estimates were made along the way so that even if slight changes needed to be made the bridge would still be very safe for all legal loads,” he said.