PennDOT: Crews Working Aggressively To Fix Liberty Bridge, But Won’t Rush To Make Deadline

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Workers are ramping up their efforts to fix the fire damage on the Liberty Bridge.

PennDOT hopes to have to work complete and the bridge reopened by Monday, but there are no guarantees.

You don’t have to be a bridge engineer to clearly see the fire warping the main support suffered in the fire nearly a week ago.

“The beam bent out of plane by about six inches,” said PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna.

PennDOT’s number crunchers say the chord is designed to withstand 2.4 million pounds of pressure, but in its current condition it’s about 20 percent less.

“Work is expected to begin here today on removal of the temporary bolts and installation of the permanent bolts, and that’s the first phase of the process,” Cessna said.

The brackets for the fix have been in manufacturing overnight and into today. They are expected to start arriving before dark.

They will be delivered to the river, not the bridge because they don’t want to jar the structure.

“Very difficult challenge and something that needs to be done with great care,” Cessna said.

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Each part will be lifted from a barge in the river when it’s needed, so no additional stress is put on the bridge. A dozen steel workers will guide them into place and secure them.

When the fix is done it will look like a permanent splint on either side of the beam.

“It will be able to carry the full load the original lower chord carried,” said Cessna.

As for the schedule to get the work done, Cessna says, “It has no leeway in it.”

He says they will not be rushing to make Monday’s deadline.

“We aren’t going to rush this to get the bridge back open,” Cessna said. “If we need more time, we’re going to announce that and tell people directly so they can plan and prepare for it. We don’t want that to happen; we’re working aggressively to meet our target, but safety is our first priority.”

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