ELIZABETH, PA. (KDKA)– Drivers in Western Pennsylvania hardly give them a thought as we travel to our daily destinations. But shut down a major river crossing and “this is a little bit of an inconvenience” becomes the understatement of the day.
PennDOT opened the Elizabeth Bridge today around 5:45 p.m. after it closed earlier. Officials say the bridge should be ready for traffic by 6 p.m.READ MORE: Holy Cow, Not Again! More Bovines Get Loose In West Virginia
WATCH: Elizabeth Bridge back open after day-long closure —
Swank Construction finished the replacing the bridge’s main support cables and temporary supports have been installed for the transition.
“The bracket that was holding up the temporary support system for the cables failed,” says Cheryl Moon-Siriani Executive for District 11 of PennDOT.READ MORE: Anti-Violence Organizations In Pittsburgh React To New Law Enforcement Initiatives
It was a single failure but Moon-Siriani says it put in question the delicate engineering balance of the bridge, “A problem on one cable could cause additional cables to take on more loads. We don’t play with risk when it comes to 25,000 vehicles a day using a bridge. If we felt there was any risk of safety, which we did, then we shut the bridge down.”
PennDOT’s engineers worked through the night to come up with a solution to the problem and have decided to go with a different support system.
Implementing it won’t be easy, “they have to evaluate it, multiple engineers have to look at it and approve it. We have to fabricate materials we may need, then construct it, inspect it and test it before we put any traffic back on that bridge.”
Even though the bridge is reopened, the work is far from finished and more closings will come each time a cable is replaced. “Some of these stoppages will be a half-hour to 45 minutes maybe longer. It will be off-peak hours, daylight, this work can’t be done at night so we apologize for the stoppages.”MORE NEWS: UPMC Doctors Trying To Raise Awareness About Benefits Of Naps For First Responders
Switching out the cable replacement system might extend the project but Moon-Siriani says, “if it has to extend the project a few more months I apologize now. But I want the public to understand the safety of the public is our utmost concern.”