Two of Pittsburgh’s bridges that have been in poor condition for years will be moving ahead with upgrades over the next few years.
Consultants will begin preliminary design and engineering work for the Herron Avenue Bridge that connects Polish Hill with Lawrenceville and also the Elizabeth Street Bridge in Hazelwood. City Council this week approved an $878,570 contract with Pittsburgh firm H.W. Lochner Inc. to design both projects.
Emily Bourne, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, said the city expects construction to begin in 2025 but the exact details won’t be known until the design is completed. These two are among six bridges that the city received design funds for from the Federal Highway Administration in February.
Herron Avenue, with an estimated cost of $3.5 million, is a preservation project that will involve replacing expansion joints and bearings, repairing a concrete barrier, improving the steel superstructure and concrete piers and substructure, new lighting and replacing a retaining wall. The 754-foot bridge carries about 4,500 cars daily.
Elizabeth Street, which carries about 2,000 vehicles a day, will have a full rehabilitation with a new concrete deck, expansion joints and bearings, installation of a structure-mounted bridge railing and improvements to the steel superstructure and concrete substructure. The work on the 115-foot bridge is estimated at $4.5 million.
It’s too soon to say whether the bridges will be closed throughout the work, but the city usually does projects that way if there are alternate routes available because the work can be completed faster.
Bourne said the city will seek full federal funding once the design is completed but could fall back to formula funding that requires the state to pay 15% of the cost and the city 5%.
Herron and Elizabeth are further along in the design process than the other four bridges that received design funds. Bourne said the city is finalizing the consultant’s technical scope and hours for a joint contract to design for work on the Corley Street, Caleta Street and Maple Avenue bridges and the contract for designing work on the California Avenue Bridge is under review by the state Department of Transportation before it is submitted to council for approval.
Mayor Ed Gainey’s administration has been putting a strong emphasis on improving the city’s dilapidated bridge inventory since the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge that connects Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze less than a month after he took office in January 2022.
Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.