'We're going to open here right before Christmas:' PennDOT says Fern Hollow Bridge close to reopening
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Another milestone was reached this week toward the opening of the new Fern Hollow Bridge.
Crucial pieces for the last step are arriving on site.
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It's only been ten months since the old bridge collapsed and now we're looking at its replacement opening in just a couple of weeks.
We saw from SkyEye2 there are construction trucks parked on the new bridge with the concrete pour being done.
"It looks like a bridge," said PennDOT Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni. "Everything approaches is pretty much complete."
It's with confidence Moon-Sirianni said, "We're going to open here right before Christmas."
The confidence comes from a delivery they've been sweating that is finally arriving.
"Pieces as a seal, the railing has been arriving here this week," she explained. "Components arrive at different times, so they have to get more, obviously, altogether before they start putting in."
There is still some concrete to pour on part of the new bridge.
"Keeping our fingers crossed we're getting a good weather day to allow that to happen between now and then," Moon-Sirianni said.
However, when it does open during the week leading up to Christmas, it won't be fully open, there's still a lot of work to be done. The expectation is to have the bridge fully opened by late next spring.
Signs point to the bridge to have traffic flowing by December 23 - could be a day or two earlier - but absolutely by Christmas weekend.
While it looks like all that is left is a ribbon-cutting, as we saw again from SkyEye2, those freshly-arriving guardrails still need to be installed.
"We're only going to be able to have one lane in each direction opening right before Christmas," Moon-Sirianni said. "It will be open for pedestrian use."
Moon-Sirianni said the restriction is needed so the contractor can finish the bridge by the spring and that the temporary road closure will be sticking around.
"It's going to be there so that the public can walk up and down it to get to Forbes Avenue, which they didn't have any opportunity to do prior to this project," she said.
She said they want to get traffic on the bridge as soon as possible because it's a critical link for first responders.
"It's used by transit, it's used by a lot of commuters, it takes traffic off of the Parkway East, and definitely removing a lot of this traffic that's been going through the Squirrel Hill community," she said.
That also includes Point Breeze and Regent Square. The emergency declaration allowed them to circumnavigate red tape that would have made this a five-year project and Moon-Sirianni said it has not come at the expense of safety.
"I don't want to say it's safer because I think all of our bridges are very safe," she said.
In conclusion - one lane in each direction and the sidewalks will open by Christmas weekend.
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