South Mountain Freeway on Track for 2020 Completion

Crews Navigate Speed Bumps on Pittsburgh Bridge Project

Wed June 20, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Rupp


Nighttime concrete placement for the new deck along SR0400 over I-579.
Nighttime concrete placement for the new deck along SR0400 over I-579.
Nighttime concrete placement for the new deck along SR0400 over I-579. Work continues on the parapet forms while the Webster Avenue deck cures.

Performing bridge repairs in a bustling urban area is never an easy task, but Trumbull Corporation rose to the challenge in its hometown city of Pittsburgh, Pa. Trumbull is the lead contractor on Phase 1 of the I-579 Veteran’s Bridge Preservation Project.

The $18.7 million project began in the fall of 2010 with a plethora of challenges, most notably the heavy traffic to UPMC, the Console Energy Center, U.S. Steel and other high-profile businesses in the area. Both vehicle and pedestrian detours were put into place.

Phase 1 work entails the preservation of nine bridges of I-579 from Boulevard of the Allies and Liberty Bridge to the Veteran’s Bridge and downtown Pittsburgh. The rehabilitation includes new bearing and expansion dams, structural steel painting and deck repairs/replacements. Additionally, crews will improve drainage, update highway lighting and provide new signs and pavement marking.

“Michael Baker Engineering did a very nice job with their design work, which included traffic control,” noted Don Stape, consultant engineer of M.A. Beech Corporation. “Baker worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation [PennDOT] to make adjustments on-the-fly in order to keep this fast-paced job on track.”

M.A. Beech was contracted by PennDOT to provide the on-site inspection and documentation for the project.

One such impromptu adjustment occurred when crews removed the decks of the Center Avenue (formerly Wiley Avenue) and Webster Avenue bridges.

“When the deck was removed and work began to detach intersecting welds at the web stiffeners, we discovered that the existing steel girders had cracks in them,” explained Stape.

The design was remediated, as was the work schedule in order to avoid any delays. The repairs did, however, cost an additional $80,000.

Unscheduled approach work added another $500,000 to the bill. The Boulevard of the Allies approach structures were found to be in poor shape and required immediate repairs.

Crews were restricted to working within the confines of a local noise ordinance. The close proximity of hotels and apartments limited the means and methods Trumbull and its subcontractors could use for demolition. To comply with this mandate, provisions were made for an additional detour so that work that was originally scheduled for evening hours could alternatively occur during the day.

Century Steel Erectors of Dravosburg, Pa., was subcontracted to jack the bridges, replace bridge bearings and replace pin and hanger assemblies. Rampart Hydro Services, based in Coraopolis, Pa., performed the hydro-demolition of the bridge deck surfaces to prepare for the new latex overlay.

Safety Grooving & Grinding of New Kensington, Pa., mechanically saw-cut the traverse grooves in the bridge decks. Swank Associates, also of New Kensington, scarified / milled the existing bridge decks.

Beth’s Barricades of Gibsonia, Pa., is providing the traffic control and signage and Parking Lot Painting, based in Bethel Park, Pa., will apply all pavement markings, legends and lane lines.

Avalotis Painting, headquartered in Darby, Pa., will blast and paint the nine steel girder bridges.

To date, the project is 80 percent complete with bridge painting still to come. The contract end date is fall of this year.