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As 100-ton beams arrive, Fern Hollow Bridge could reopen by year's end

As 100-ton beams arrive, Fern Hollow Bridge could reopen by year's end
As 100-ton beams arrive, Fern Hollow Bridge could reopen by year's end 03:14

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- With the first of more than a dozen 100-ton beams arriving in Pittsburgh Monday for the new Fern Hollow Bridge, officials gave an update on construction and released a tentative timeline for reopening.  

Crews are working on an "extremely aggressive" timeframe to repair the bridge after it collapsed in January, said Cheryl Moon-Sirianni with PennDOT. Almost seven months in, Moon-Sirianni said crews have done about three years' worth of work. 

Assuming everything goes smoothly while dealing with supply chain issues, Moon-Sirianni said the goal is to get the bridge reopened by the end of the year. Mayor Ed Gainey agreed finishing the bridge by the year's end will be difficult but said the project is going faster than officials expected.  

"Don't hold me to this because we're all dealing with the supply chain issues but we're hopeful to have this bridge open by the end of the year,"  Moon-Sirianni said. 

PennDOT crews started delivering the beams Monday. Rolling road closures are expected to cause some traffic delays throughout the process.

PennDOT said 14 of the 21 beams will be transported from Blair County to the Squirrel Hill side of the site. It will take some time to move these huge beams, so drivers may want to alter their route to avoid any traffic issues.

The beams will travel along Route 28 and the Veterans Bridge to Crosstown Boulevard. They will then travel along the Boulevard of the Allies and continue to Forbes Avenue. Once the beams reach the city, police will escort them to Forbes and South Dallas Avenues as they arrive at their destination.

PennDOT said the plans are to deliver two beams per day on weekdays.

The money for the bridge -- as much as $25 million -- is coming through the federal infrastructure package passed by Congress earlier this year. The city and PennDOT were able to fast-track the necessary permits, design and construction. 

"This is a miracle," said Councilman Ricky Burgess. "To have this bridge go up this fast is nothing short of miraculous."

Due to public input, the bridge will have a bike-pedestrian lane and a crossing traffic light for pedestrians on its west end.  

While the bridge is under construction, the main issue has been the traffic.

"It's been a nightmare not having that bridge. People thought it was a little overpass over a gully but it's a major thoroughfare," said Marvin Fein of Squirrel Hill. 

100-ton beams for new Fern Hollow Bridge to begin arriving 01:03
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