PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After weeks of detours, lengthy commutes and driver frustration, the Liberty Bridge reopened Monday afternoon following a fire on the span earlier this month.
Twenty-four days after the rush hour nightmares began, the fire-damaged bridge reopened to traffic. Repaired, but not completely.
The weight limit on the bridge has been reduced from 30 to nine tons.
“It means the bridge is good for cars, ambulances and pickup trucks; it excludes buses and empty tri-axle trucks and heavier trucks than that,” PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna said.
When the load re-shifting was done, most of the weight returned to the repaired steel chord. But more remains on the chord on the opposite side of the bridge than originally designed. So it’s going to have to be reinforced before the bridge can go back to carrying trucks and buses, which Cessna said should happen before November.
Cessna says the moving of the bridge over the weekend, the so-called jacking process, went more smoothly than expected with the bridge shifting less than two inches laterally and horizontally.
KDKA’s John Shumway: “Dan, one of the things we’ve heard from people is their confidence is shaken, what do you say to people who want to know is it safe?”
Cessna: “Yeah that’s a question everyone is dying to ask. The reality is: if the bridge wasn’t safe, we wouldn’t reopen it.”
Initially, only one lane was open each way, but for Tuesday morning’s rush hour, two inbound lanes will be open.