Construction won’t start until the summer of 2020, but PennDOT’s plan to alleviate traffic congestion at the intersection of Route 50 and Washington Pike is already in progress.
Earlier this month, PennDOT officials hosted a public meeting at the Bridgeville fire hall to explain the agency’s strategy, which includes widening some roads, adding additional lanes, and replace the four-lane bridge that links South Fayette and Bridgeville over the Chartiers Creek with a new, seven-lane span.
To avoid major traffic disruptions, workers will tear down the existing bridge and build the new one over the course of just a few weekends.
Yes—PennDOT is going to demolish a four-lane bridge put up a new, seven-lane bridge in about the same take it would take you and your buddies to build that deck you’ve been thinking about.
The construction team will use “accelerated bridge construction,” which essentially means that they will build most of the bridge off-site, then haul in the near-finished pieces to be assembled on-site like 10-ton Legos.
Here’s a time lapse video of the Tennessee Department of Transportation using similar techniques to replace a set of bridges in just three days:
The pedestrian bridge that killed 13 people when it collapsed in Miami earlier this year was also built using accelerated bridge construction techniques. However, federal investigators are still examining that incident, and nothing thus far points to the construction method as a contributing factor. In fact, hundreds of bridges have been built this way in the United States and Europe without incident.
If any of this caused concern for Bridgville area residents, they didn’t get the chance to say so publicly at the PennDOT meeting. At the start of the gathering, PennDOT’s Cheryl Moon-Sirianni said that officials would not take question on stage in front of the audience. Rather, people with questions were told to find a PennDOT official to ask one-on-one after the presentation.
Residents were also able to fill out comment forms that would later be reviewed by the project managers, according to state officials. For residents unable to attend the meeting, the comment form is rumored to be available somewhere on PennDOT’s website, but we were unable to find it.
Other key details from the project presentation:
- Chartiers Street will be widened to three lanes, including a dedicated left-hand turn lane onto Washington Pike.
- When completed, this project could reduce the distance of traffic backups at the Route 50-Washington Pike intersection by 25% to 50%. In other words, if you are backed up 500 feet from a traffic signal now, that could be reduced to 250 feet post-construction.
- There are a number of other improvement planned, including on- and off-ramp adjustments to I-79 along Route 50.
- Like the rest of the audience, Bob Fryer, perhaps Bridgeville’s most vocal traffic engineering enthusiast, was not permitted to speak. Nor would PennDOT provide him with an easel to display the documents and printouts he wanted to public to see. Instead, Fryer brought his own equipment and set up shop in the fire hall lobby:
You can watch the entire PennDOT presentation above, with some enhanced visuals. Or if you just want to see the slides, they’re embedded below [or available in PDF form here].