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Liberty Bridge To Be Closed At Least An Additional Week

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Liberty Bridge will not be reopening on schedule.

PennDOT says the bridge will continue to be closed an additional week. It was previously scheduled to reopen on Monday, Sept. 12.

On Thursday, officials said workers were ramping up their efforts to fix damage on the bridge, but wouldn't rush the repairs to get it opened in time.

The fire started when sparks from a blow torch ignited plastic pipes that were on the bridge. The flames then spread to a tarp on the structure that was undergoing renovation work. The temperature exceeded 1,200 degrees, causing a major member - or beam - on the bridge to buckle.

KDKA's Brenda Waters Reports:

By Friday afternoon, the repair steel still hadn't arrived to the construction site, but work wasn't slowing down to prepare the damaged chord for the repairs.

"Preparation of additional bolt holes, replacement of existing bolts with permanent bolts," said PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna.

The steel fabrication of the parts needed to do the repair, expected to be done by now, has not gone as quickly as PennDOT hoped.

"We're now employing an additional manufacturing site to speed up the process of production of the steel," Cessna said.

So as it stands now, the steel should be on site and assembly is expected to take place Saturday.

But, then, the bridge has to be jacked back into position so the beam is once again carrying its share of the load.

"It's an actual process that uses 400 ton jacks, multiple jacks; we're looking at about four to them," Cessna said.

It is a slow, tedious process in fractions of an inch increments, prompting the timeline of the repairs and the reopening to be pushed back.

KDKA's John Shumway Reports:

There are pieces of the steel still be fabricated in three different places that won't arrive at the site until Tuesday.

The bottom line, the work will continue on-site, those pieces are expected to arrive early next week, they'll do the assembly work the following days, then start the jacking late next week.

So, PennDOT says they are hopeful to get the span reopened by Monday, Sept. 19.

Meanwhile, the contractor responsible for the fire could be facing millions in fines.

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