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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The extensive work on the Liberty Bridge wrapped up Tuesday.
Construction has been going on for three years on the 90-year-old structure and cost nearly $82 million.
Repairs after the bridge caught fire in 2016 took longer than expected. But even with that setback, PennDOT said the project came in less than 2 percent over budget.
The $5 million in extra repairs following the fire ended up being covered by the contractor and its insurer.
Now that the main part of the project is over, crews still have to replace a damaged pedestrian railing on the Boulevard of the Allies. That work is expected to take about three months.
“About three years, and we’re essentially done, just minor little things that don’t effect the public and you might not even know are going on,” said PennDOT’s Jason Zang.
So the green light is up on a bridge that “60 Minutes” once used as the poster child of structural deficiency. It hasn’t been easy, they found problems they weren’t expecting.
“Always do,” said Zang. “rust that we didn’t see, steel plates that were rusted to nothing, some more critical than others.”
The new Liberty Bridge sports a number of new things.
“The steel members that are directly underneath the roadway, they have all been replaced,” Zang said.
The railings have been replaced, Zang says “with what we call the PA barriers so you can see the rivers as you go over the bridge.”
You can’t miss the difference overhead.
“Complete upgrade of the lane control system that was there was in the ‘80s, and now we have all new technology,” Zang said.
And there’s the new latex, overlaid, fully-replaced concrete deck of the bridge.
“Hopefully, 20-25 years we will come back in and do something to the bridge wearing surface,” he said.
But maybe the most asked question about the revamped liberty bridge is: Why isn’t it gold?
“We were trying to tie into the Crosstown Boulevard structures, which are the same color, so we were trying to do a more uniform color scheme. And change is good,” Zang added.
Approximately 42,000 vehicles use the bridge every day.