Bridge Collapse: Two Month Update

It’s been two months since the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge over Pittsburgh’s scenic Frick Park. Below is a summary of updates from across the city and state on activity related to the collapse. If I have missed anything of interest, please share it in the comments and I will try to include it in future updates.

  • As of March 8, construction is expected to start in April on the new bridge.
  • The design of the new bridge was released causing chagrin among neighbors, urban designers, accessibility advocates, mobility advocates, and users of the park. The only people I have heard directly or indirectly say only positive things about the new bridge design are engineers (though some engineers also have concerns).
  • The Pittsburgh Business Times compiled a detailed special report on bridge conditions in the region and what is needed to repair them. Allegheny County has more bridges than any other county in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Statewide, Allegheny County ranks 37 out of 67 for the most poor condition bridges and 44 out of 67 for the most good condition bridges.
  • The Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge has been featured in social media conversations due to its rusted condition. A project to “modernize” this bridge was launched in 2019. The final design is expected to be completed in 2024 with construction starting in 2025.
  • Two local start-ups (robotic- and drone-based) are working to provide bridge inspection services that could create more detailed, less biased condition analyses in less time to municipalities and other bridge owners. (Pittsburgh Business Times, February 25, 2022)
  • No new information has been released in the National Transportation Safety Board’s ongoing investigation into the collapse. According to an article in the Post-Gazette, the investigation will take at least a year.
  • The City’s legislation to establish the Commission on Infrastructure Asset Reporting and Investment was signed by the Mayor on March 3, 2022, and is effective as of that date. (City Council legislation page)
  • The City’s legislation to establish public reporting procedures on city infrastructure by the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure also became effective on March 3, 2022, with the Mayor’s signature. (City Council legislation page)
  • There are no new updates on the bridge repair being conducted by Port Authority, but as a resident in the affected area, I recently received a letter from Port Authority. This letter announced that they were taking advantage of the existing detour to implement some stop upgrades to the T stations in Beechview and Dormont. These renovations had been on the schedule for the near future and were being bumped up due to the current rerouting. The stop upgrades are expected to take 6 months. The letter did not mention how that would impact the resumption of normal T service. Based on the press release from February 16, there are only 6-8 more weeks of work before the bridge is restored. It seems unlikely that normal T service will resume in Beechview for several months after that with the continued concurrent work on the stops in the neighborhood.
  • A February 4th Facebook Live Q&A with PennDOT is the only reference I have found yet that says the inspections have been completed on the 5 other bridges in Pennsylvania that use the same K-design as the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge. At about minute 19:30, a representative from PennDOT states that these bridges have all been inspected or will be inspected by the end of the day on February 4th. He also said that they are all in better condition with ratings of “fair” and “good,” instead of Fern Hollow’s “poor condition” rating, and none have weight restrictions.
  • I also found that PennDOT has its own interactive map of bridges in the state and their inspection status separate from the Federal Highway Administration’s resource.
  • The City of Pittsburgh announced on March 2 that they are starting maintenance repairs to the Centre Avenue Bridge that will take place on the underside over several months. The work is not expected to affect pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • The City of Pittsburgh announced in the middle of March that they were “proactively” closing the northern sidewalk on the Meadow Avenue bridge to conduct “necessary,” but “not an imminent structural concern” repairs to the bridge following a routine inspection.

Previous Fern Hollow Bridge Posts:

One-Month Update

Two-Week Update

One-Week Update

Day After

Breaking News

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