PennDOT to rehab Elizabeth Bridge in Mon Valley

March 20, 2017
PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna, at left, speaks Monday about upcoming road and infrastructure projects across the Pittsburgh area. - Mike Jones/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Construction crews will begin working this summer to repair the Elizabeth Bridge that will allow weight restrictions to be removed from the span that carries traffic on Route 51 over the Monongahela River in Allegheny County.

Work on the $32 million project is expected to start in late July and continue over the next two years, according to state Department of Transportation District 11 Executive Dan Cessna, who spoke to reporters Monday in Scott Township about various construction projects across the region.

“We’re really happy to move forward with the Elizabeth Bridge (project),” Cessna said. “That’s a very important bridge in our network and it’s restricted right now.”

PennDOT recently incorporated weight restrictions on the bridge because of its condition, Cessna said.

The work will include replacing the concrete road surface and barriers, making repairs to steel beams and expansion dams and repainting the entire structure. Five other structures around the bridge, which connects Elizabeth to West Elizabeth, will also be rehabilitated.

Traffic could be reduced to single lanes during some construction, although various exit ramps and interchanges may be closed at times, forcing drivers to take detours.

Elsewhere in the region, reconstruction of the Liberty Tunnels will enter its fifth and final phase this year, while work will continue on the Liberty Bridge with no delays expected after last year’s fire damaged the span.

“Once we finally get the bridge and tunnel completed, we should be out of that area for a long time,” Cessna said.

Work on the Liberty Tunnels begins again in May and will primarily occur during evenings and weekends, meaning there will be some closures at those times as crews continue rehabilitating the two tunnels. Construction crews are also continuing reconstruction of the tunnels’ southern side on Route 19 at the interchange with Route 51, which is expected to be finished by July.

The tunnels will be completed in April 2019 while construction on the Liberty Bridge is expected to continue until next August as workers replace the deck and paint the steel superstructure. PennDOT officials said the Sept. 2 fire that closed the bridge for nearly a month will not delay the project.

“A lot of work remains to be completed on the Liberty Bridge,” Cessna said.

Overall, Cessna said District 11, which includes Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, is preparing to work on 67 new projects this year that total $385 million, along with another 72 other projects already underway.

“We’ve got a lot of projects geared up and ready to go,” Cessna said.

An $8.18 million project to repave Route 22 and repair bridges along the highway in North Fayette and Findlay townships will be completed in May. There will be some single-lane closures in that area.

Other major projects across the region include reconstruction of the I-376 Business Loop near Pittsburgh International Airport.

Workers will also install fire suppression systems inside the outbound lanes of the Fort Pitt Tunnels in Pittsburgh, which will bring evening lane restrictions until May.

Portions of the Parkway North’s HOV lanes will also be closed periodically as PennDOT begins its two-year, $88 million reconstruction of the center carpooling lanes of the highway.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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