The bridge is expected to see 17,000 vehicles a day.By Chris Hoffman

SWISSVALE (KDKA) — After 18 months of construction, the ribbon was cut Thursday on the Kenmawr Bridge.

It is one of the major connections to Kennywood, and the hope is for it to connect more communities.

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The $12 million, 18-month project will now serve as a gateway to many communities in the Mon Valley. The new bridge is wider and can carry a heavier load than the old one, allowing for future communities to be connected along the MLK Busway.

“We’re the center now. We have great routes to get everywhere,” Swissvale Mayor Deneen Swartzwelder said.

The Port Authority said extending the busway into more neighborhoods would take years and would cost $200 million. Designs are currently being studied.

“We want to make sure we’re starting with our communities. We run the service, but our communities own it. What do they see that has value for them and how can we built this into it?” Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said as jobs boom in some parts of Pittsburgh, it doesn’t help communities outside the city if there’s no connection.

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“If you can’t get connected to those jobs, they might as well be a thousand miles away,” he said.

Fitzgerald hopes the federal infrastructure bill passes and can help fund future connection projects.

“It’s so needed in a place like this, and equity is a big part of this,” Fitzgerald said.

Prior to this bridge, buses had a hard time turning onto the bridge and using it because of weight limits.

“A lot of times, what we do in transportation is take care of what we have built in the past under different ideas, different value systems,” Kelleman said.

Some stabilization work is still being done and will be completed in late October. The bridge is expected to see 17,000 vehicles a day.

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Moving forward Allegheny County, Rankin, and Swissvale will maintain the bridge.