Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation’s District 11 and City of Pittsburgh officials, in cooperation
with the Federal Highway Administration, are announcing that both design and
construction efforts are underway to erect a structure along Forbes Avenue
within the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County. The structure, commonly
referred to as the Fern Hollow Bridge, provides travel over Frick Park, Fern
Hollow Creek, and Tranquil Trail.
“With the Fern Hollow
Bridge seeing more than 14,000 cars daily, we knew it was critical to act
quickly to reconstruct,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “This reconstruction will
allow commerce to continue without further interruptions to the lives of
outlining progress on the reconstruction just weeks after Governor Wolf signed
a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on January 28 and Mayor Ed Gainey issued a
Declaration of Disaster Emergency on January 30, 2022 due to the collapse of
the Fern Hollow Bridge. The emergency declarations allowed the City to
immediately turn the project over to PennDOT for management of the design and
construction of the project and for the department to work with the Federal
Highway Administration to utilize emergency procurement procedures and begin
work within seven days of the collapse.
“We are extremely thankful for our
partners at PennDOT,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “Because of their leadership we
have been able to move efficiently to begin the process so we can
safely restore this critical piece of our infrastructure to our
city. We are encouraged by the progress being made and are looking forward
to this next phase of the project to reconnect this critical roadway for our
PennDOT has selected
the team of HDR and Swank Construction to design and construct the new bridge
through a Design Build partnership. The partnership will expeditiously and
efficiently design and construct the project taking into account the
environmental complexities involved with location to the park and the necessary
coordination with the City of Pittsburgh and stakeholders.
Due to the project
being declared as an emergency, innovative techniques are being utilized to
modify the standard linear design process allowing multiple phases to occur
simultaneously including foundation, substructure, superstructure, utility
relocation, environmental, and aesthetic aspects of the project. As part of the
design process, field work including survey, core borings and lab testing as
part of geotechnical investigation, and environmental assessment are currently
underway, as is the continuation of demolition and cleanup of the old bridge as
the contractor assisted with the National Transportation Safety Board’s
and sedimentation controls have been implemented and are being monitored by the
Allegheny County Conservation District. Those controls include compost filter
socks, rock check dams, stream crossing utilizing crane mats, and stabilizing
disturbed areas with straw and seed. The environmental agencies and utility
companies have been extremely supportive and understanding of the emergency
nature of the project and are cooperating with the department and the City to
expedite all reviews and approvals.
several options, the team determined that a three-span continuous composite
prestressed concrete I-beam with integral abutments is the recommended
structure type. Various factors went into this decision including material
availability, cost, design concerns, and delivery time were all evaluated along
with any potential supply chain concerns.
In order to expedite
the replacement, the new structure will remain along the same roadway alignment
and width and is anticipated to include four 10-foot-wide travel lanes,
two-foot-wide shoulders on both sides, a five-foot-wide sidewalk, and a 10-foot
5-inch-wide shared use path on the southern side of the bridge.
The entire project
site is being evaluated for aesthetic treatments which are expected to include,
but are not limited to, treatments to the concrete pier columns and bridge
barriers, painting of the beams, a stream restoration plan, ornamental bridge
lighting, and a site restoration plan with tree plantings to restore damaged
As part of the public
involvement process, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of
1966 makes allowances for seeking public input as it relates to concerns for
historic properties. The department is coordinating with consulting parties for
feedback on bridge aesthetics and the avoidance of adverse effects as they
relate to the historic aspects of Frick Park. The parties involved
include the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure,
Department of Public Works and Department of City Planning, the Pittsburgh
Parks Conservancy, and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks
Foundation. Additionally, the Fern Hollow Bridge website has been
activated and will include a public comment section. Project details can be found at Fern
Hollow Bridge Project.
As design efforts
continue, the contractor is actively engaging suppliers to ensure proposed
materials will be available in a timely manner. Physical construction of the
bridge is anticipated to begin in late April and additional information will be
provided in advance of the work as the various components of the construction
schedule are refined. Following the emergency procedures will allow the
construction of the replacement to occur two to three years earlier than would
have been possible utilizing conventional design and construction methods.
Motorists can check
conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter
conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com.
511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay
warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than
1,000 traffic cameras.
511PA is also
available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by
calling 5-1-1, or by following
regional twitter alerts.
Subscribe to PennDOT news and traffic alerts in Allegheny,
Beaver, and Lawrence counties at www.penndot.pa.gov/District11.
Information about infrastructure in District 11, including
completed work and significant projects, is available at www.penndot.pa.gov/D11Results. Find PennDOT’s planned and active construction projects
Follow local PennDOT news on Twitter and like the department on Facebook and Instagram.
Steve Cowan, PennDOT, 412-429-5010
Maria Montaño, City of Pittsburgh, 412-500-6669
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