PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There was some real progress on the Liberty Bridge on Tuesday night.
Crews put a new beam in place and things seem to be going smoothly, but the next step in the process is a complicated one.
In the pre-dawn darkness, they completed the repair beam and lifted it into place. The iron workers making the sparks fly as they tweaked and adjusted the parts, both on the barge and on the bridge itself.
As the moon disappeared into morning light, work was well underway on the beam to attach it to the bridge. This is far from a bolt here and a bolt there kind of process. It required additional grinding near the pier and welding, as was seen from the deck of the Gateway Clipper boat.
“Everything is going in quite well,” PennDOT Dist. 11 executive Dan Cessna said. “It’s a complicated process.”
But getting all the parts in place is only the beginning of this fix, and there are a lot of parts involved, as seen from Dave King’s Steel City drone.
“Three of the four beams have been attached,” he said. “One is still on site up there to be installed.”
As this work continues, so does the monitoring of the bridge to make sure that the work does not in some way create movement in the structure.
“There’s really not a huge risk, but again, that’s why we’re there,” Cessna said.
When everything is secure, it will be on to moving the bridge back into place, the so called “jacking” process.
“That [jacking process] can take, certain portions of it will be as quick as a few hours, but the continual jacking and heat-straightening process can take a lot of time, as measured in days,” Cessna said. “So, again, you can’t really put a time on that at this point because you don’t know the success of the heat-straightening.”
Cessna also said they will reevaluate the strength of the bridge after all the work is finished, and depending on what they see in those models and all the analysis they do, they’ll decide if they can reopen the bridge at the same weight restriction of 30 tons that currently existed before the work started or whether that might have to be reduced.