Design, construction of Fern Hollow Bridge replacement advances in Pittsburgh

Construction of the new bridge is anticipated to begin in late April

March 11, 2022 / 2 minute read
Fern Hollow Bridge replacement rendering
An early design rendering of the replacement Fern Hollow Bridge. Image courtesy: PennDOT

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) District 11 and the City of Pittsburgh announced this week that design and construction are moving forward to build a replacement Fern Hollow Bridge after the original structure collapsed in January.

According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, work on the new bridge will begin with construction of the substructure while design work continues. PennDOT says construction of the bridge is anticipated to begin in late April.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on Jan. 28 and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey issued a Declaration of Disaster Emergency on Jan. 30. The emergency declarations allowed PennDOT to fast-track work after the collapse through emergency procurement procedures, according to a news release from PennDOT.

PennDOT will use $25.3 million in federal grant funding to pay for the bridge replacement project. The department has selected the team of HDR and Swank Construction to design and construct the new Fern Hollow Bridge through a design-build partnership.

After evaluating several options, the team determined that a three-span continuous composite prestressed concrete I-beam with integral abutments is the recommended structure type. In order to expedite the replacement, the new structure will remain along the same roadway alignment and width and is anticipated to include four 10-ft-wide travel lanes, 2-ft-wide shoulders on both sides, a 5-ft-wide sidewalk, and a 10-ft 5-in.-wide shared-use path on the southern side of the bridge.

PennDOT says since the project was declared an emergency, innovative techniques are being utilized to modify the standard linear design process allowing multiple phases to occur simultaneously including foundation, substructure, superstructure, utility relocation, environmental, and aesthetic aspects of the project.

Demolition and cleanup of the old bridge will continue as the contractor assists with the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation, PennDOT says.


Source: PennDOT | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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