Public input on rebuild of Fern Hollow Bridge will be limited, officials say

Work continues on the rebuild of the Fern Hole Bridge, as Pittsburgh and neighborhood leaders gave an replace Thursday night time at a digital townhall assembly Thursday to debate desires, wants and the progress of the undertaking.

Pittsburgh Deputy Mayor Jake Pawlak cautioned residents that the pressing nature of the rebuild and the necessity for a swift decision imply that public enter and suggestions might be restricted.

“We’ve got tried to maneuver as expeditiously as attainable in rebuilding the bridge and utility connections throughout the Fern Hole valley in order that our at the start duty to the general public — which is the supply of secure and wholesome dwelling circumstances — is restored,” Pawlak mentioned through the digital assembly.

“That does include a needed tradeoff,” he warned, “which is that the traditional procedures, each publicly consultative and authorized, that we might usually deploy in a bridge reconstruction or restoration undertaking needed to be expedited.”

When the governor and mayor each issued emergency declarations concerning the Jan. 28 bridge collapse, it meant that some regular elements of design evaluation and public session could be waived.

“That was not a straightforward determination,” Pawlak mentioned, noting that below regular circumstances, the town and the agency charged with development would hunt down public enter.

“As a result of Fern Hole collapsed,” he mentioned, “we needed to shorten or get rid of procedures.”

He mentioned that many sorts of design issues, particularly lane discount or realignment, require a site visitors examine be carried out earlier than these issues may be put ahead.

“We’re not ready to try this as a result of we’re not ready to conduct a site visitors examine throughout a bridge that doesn’t exist,” he mentioned.

By way of precise work on the bridge, Eric Setzler, chief engineer for the Division of Mobility and Infrastructure, mentioned issues are progressing. Crews from PennDOT, which is overseeing the undertaking, have drilled and put into place the caissons, which anchor the bridge below the bottom floor.

“Our first two months have been actually focusing onerous on getting the construction designed,” Setzler mentioned. “We’d like that designed so we will get the supplies procured and begin development.”

The bridge, a part of Forbes Avenue over Frick Park, collapsed about 6:40 a.m. Jan. 28, sending a Port Authority bus and a number of other automobiles tumbling greater than 100 ft into the ravine beneath.

The assembly got here the identical day that Mayor Ed Gainey outlined plans to research the town’s infrastructure wants and make provisions for the restore and maintenance of bridges.

The town launched a request for proposals Thursday to search out specialists to steer this system.

The bridge asset administration crew might be tasked with reviewing present bridge circumstances and sending the mayor a report on their findings by October, Gainey mentioned.

In addition they will develop an inventory of instant, near-term bridge repairs that should be made, together with those who the Division of Mobility and Infrastructure have already recognized as in want of repairs, and any further bridges the crew feels want consideration.

On Thursday, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board launched new pictures from the collapse, together with some captured by cameras on the Port Authority bus.

A photograph captured by one of many bus cameras and launched by the investigatory panel exhibits the bridge deck starting to separate on the east growth joint on the facet of the bridge in Level Breeze and main into Regent Sq..

A second picture from a bus digital camera exhibits the west finish of the bridge on the Squirrel Hill facet falling off the west abutment at about the identical time.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Assessment employees author. You may contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or by way of Twitter .

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