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Green or Weathering Steel? PennDOT wants you to pick the new Commercial Street Bridge color

PennDOT looking for input on Commercial Street Bridge
PennDOT looking for input on Commercial Street Bridge 03:10

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Have you ever had to pick out a paint color for a project or looked at fabric swatches? 

This is sort of the same thing but on a larger scale and PennDOT needs your help with it. 

They're preparing to build a bridge through a very busy area and trying to pick out the colors and designs and that's where you come in! 

It's for the Commercial Street Bridge, which is aptly named because it lays over Commercial Street and Frick Park, carrying 100,000 drivers every day on the Parkway East to and from the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. 

"This bridge is going to be part of the community," said Mike Szurley, the project manager at PennDOT. "It's really important to get the community's feedback on what this structure is going to look like." 

While the design of the bridge is done, they have to choose a color for the superstructure. 

"We anticipate this color being on the bridge for a minimum of 35 years," he said. 

They've narrowed it down to two: green to match the Greenfield Bridge, and according to Szurley it also compliments the foliage in Frick Park. 

The other color is called "weathering steel" which is an earthy mud brown. 

"That's really to give that rustic feel right of the outdoors is what we're trying to approach similar to like a tree or bark, which we also thought the design team thought played very well into the Frick Park setting," he explained. 

You can vote on the color right now in a poll that PennDOT has put up and it can be found on their website

Voters can make their voices heard once per day. 

It will be on until April 28 and PennDOT plans to reveal the winner on May 5. 

Replacing the Commercial Street Bridge 03:23

So, the questions on everyone's mind have to be - when does this get started and what kind of a traffic nightmare will it be? 

Szurley said it's expected to begin in 2024. 

"Right now, based upon the fabrication lead times that our team has assessed, we anticipate that lateral slide will occur in the calendar year of 2026," he said. 

Lateral slide?

That's right, the new bridge will be built parallel to the existing bridge. Once it's ready, they'll slide it over and replace it. 

"The existing Commercial Street Bridge will be removed by both conventional and demolition activities using explosives and we plan to just slide the new structure into place," Szurley said. 

Obviously, that can't be done overnight, or even over a long weekend, it's a huge bridge and once in place, the connections to the Parkway also have to be built. 

"What we plan to do, over a full three-week closure, an anticipated three-week full closure of the parkway East, is slide the proposed structure onto the proposed substructure units on the existing alignment," he explained. 

They're aiming for July 2026 for that full closure. 

Work begins next year when they will relocate Commercial Street and the walking paths under the bridge so they can be used during construction, and if all goes to plan, we should be driving on the new bridge in about three years. 

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