CARMICHAELS – It may take a little longer for motorists driving from Greene County to Uniontown Saturday as the state Department of Transportation demolishes the old Masontown Bridge.
PennDOT plans to demolish the steel superstructure of the bridge, dropping it into the river with a series of explosions, sometime between 9 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
PennDOT will halt traffic on Route 21 beginning at 6 a.m. that day. The highway will be closed between Church Road in Greene County and River Avenue in Fayette County.
Traffic restrictions will be lifted once any debris is cleared and inspections determine the roadway and new bridge are safe. PennDOT’s suggested detour will take traffic on Route 21, Route 88, Route 40 and Route 166.
During the demolition, a mandatory safety zone also will be established surrounding the area for boats and aircraft.
This will include a 2,000 foot no fly zone that will be established before the demolition and be in place until it has been determined all explosive charges have fired. Boaters also will be prohibited from entering the area from 6 a.m. until 24 hours after the bridge is dropped so debris can be removed from the river.
Traffic on the old two-lane bridge 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.
The Brayman Construction Co., contractor on the $49.6 million bridge replacement project, had begun work early last year.
The new bridge is expected to be complete in late 2014.
The old 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.