MASONTOWN – Despite the winter weather, work is continuing on the construction of a new bridge to replace the 87-year-old Masontown Bridge.
The contractor, Brayman Construction Co., is now completing the sixth and final pier for the new bridge, which when completed will carry Route 21 over the Norfolk Southern railroad and the Monongahela River.
Erection of steel girders on the major river spans is expected to begin late next week, said Valerie Petersen, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. The contractor is now completing work at the site to prepare for the erection of the steel girders, she said.
The project, started early last year, involves replacing the existing two-lane bridge with a new four-lane structure.
Replacing the bridge had been recommended by a 2000 transportation study that focused on improvements to the Route 21 corridor between Waynesburg and Uniontown.
It was determined that a new bridge was needed because of the age and the design of the existing structure as well as the increased traffic on Route 21, according to the study.
Local elected officials for years pushed for funding for the project because of the road’s importance as the main traffic corridor between Waynesburg and Uniontown.
The existing bridge was built in the early 1920s and was dedicated as the “Inter-county Bridge” in 1925. The 1,450-foot long bridge is considered “substandard” in width, being only 24 feet wide with no shoulder.
The new bridge will be 1,700 feet long and will be slightly higher than the existing structure. It will have two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, two 8-foot outside shoulders, inside shoulders and a median.
The project also will involve the reconstruction of the approach road to the bridge extending 3,200 feet to the west and about 1,000 feet to the east of the existing bridge. The new bridge is being constructed north of the existing bridge, which has remained open to traffic.
PennDOT awarded the $49.6 million contract for the project to Brayman in October 2011. The company has until fall 2014 to complete the project.