Masontown Bridge demolition slated for Sept. 28

September 19, 2013
The steel superstructure of the 88-year-old Masontown Bridge will be dropped into the Monongahela River by explosive charges Sept. 28. - Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CARMICHAELS – The Masontown Bridge, which carried Route 21 over the Monongahela River between Greene and Fayette counties for 88 years, will be gone before the end of the month.

The state Department of Transportation has scheduled the demolition of the steel superstructure of the bridge, which will be dropped into the river with a series of explosions Sept. 28.

The demolition of the bridge, which has been replaced by the partially-completed new bridge built adjacent to it, is tentatively scheduled to take place between 9 and 10:30 a.m. that day, said Valerie Petersen, PennDOT District 12 spokeswoman.

Traffic restrictions on Route 21 will be in place from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Route 21 will be closed between Church Road in Greene County and River Avenue in Fayette County.

The road closing could be lifted earlier provided the debris is cleared and the area determined to be safe, Petersen said. A marked detour will be in place that uses Route 21, Route 88, Route 40 and Route 166.

During the demolition, a mandatory safety zone also will be established surrounding the area, Petersen said.

This will include a 2,000 foot no fly zone that will be established before the demolition and be in place until it is determined all explosive charges have gone off, she said.

Boaters also will be prohibited from entering the area from 6 a.m. until 24 hours after the bridge is demolished so debris can be removed from the river.

Traffic on Route 21 was routed last month onto the completed first half of the new bridge, which was built adjacent to the old structure. Once the old bridge is demolished, the second half of the new bridge will be built in its place.

Brayman Construction Co., the contractor on the $49.6 million bridge replacement project, began work early last year. It is expected to complete the new bridge late next year.

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 determined 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 the project’s funding 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.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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