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New Pennsylvania Bridge Honors Woman Lost on Sept. 11

Wed May 23, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Rupp


New Enterprise rented a Manitowoc 200-ton (181 t) crane for beam erection, including this segment showing Span 3.
New Enterprise rented a Manitowoc 200-ton (181 t) crane for beam erection, including this segment showing Span 3.
New Enterprise rented a Manitowoc 200-ton (181 t) crane for beam erection, including this segment showing Span 3. Mary Ellen Tiesi was senior vice president and account executive of AON Risk Management at the World Trade Center, South Tower Floor 105.

When the Irvona Truss Bridge (SR 53) in Clearfield County, Pa., was slated for replacement, local officials decided that in addition to building a new and improved structure, the town of Irvona would honor a local woman who perished in the Twin Towers on 9/11.

Mary Ellen Tiesi was 38 when she died in the World Trade Center, South Tower. She was the only Clearfield County native to lose her life in the towers on 9/11.

While Tiesi was evacuating the Towers that day, she stopped to wait for her boss who had a heart condition. After a few flights of stairs, her boss decided to take the elevator, but Tiesi declined to join him, noting that they had been told in safety drills not to use the elevators in an emergency.

“Those few moments of concern for another cost her her life. To my mind, this makes her a hero,” said Joe Tiesi, Mary Ellen’s brother.

In August 2011, Irvona Borough Mayor John “PJ” Patterson announced that the bridge would be dedicated to Tiesi. It will be called the “Mary Ellen Tiesi Memorial 9-11 Bridge.”

Though the Senate has not yet acted on House Bill 1827 naming the bridge, the borough of Irvona is tentatively planning on a Memorial Day weekend dedication of the bridge if the legislation is passed by May.

State Representative Camille “Bud” George is aiding in getting a piece of steel from the World Trade Center to be used as part of the bridge or placed nearby.

The design/build project received Notice to Proceed in November 2010, with New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company at the helm. Designing took place over the winter months, and the physical work, including the demolition of the structurally deficient 1940s Pony Truss bridge, began in March 2011.

Work included design and construction of bridge, design and paving of roadway, flood protection embankment, and miscellaneous construction as indicated on the approved construction drawings. The contract amount was $3.9 million.

New Enterprise self-performed the majority of the tasks, including earthwork, demolition, structural work and paving. The company brought its own equipment for excavation, which included a Caterpillar 330 backhoe with hydro-hammers, a Hitachi 400 excavator, a Caterpillar D8 dozer and four Volvo 35-ton (31.7 t) articulated trucks.

Approximately 25,000 cu. yds. (19,125 cu m) of earth was removed, with about a quarter of that being reused on the project.

For the structural work, New Enterprise used its own Manitowoc 165 crawler crane, and rented a Manitowoc 200-ton (181.4 t) hydraulic crane to set the bridge beams. The design called for 2,000 cu. yds. (1,530 cu m) of concrete for the bridge deck, footers, abutments and piers. The paving crew used 2,000 tons (1,814 t) of asphalt.

A handful of local subcontractors worked on the project as well: Protection Services of Harrisburg provided traffic control, Highway Marking Inc., based in Friedens, did line painting, and guide rails were installed by Penn Line Services Inc. of Scottdale. Green Acres Contracting, also of Scottdale, was in charge of signing, and Green Valley Landscaping, headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, was hired for seeding.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) considered a detour for the project, but found that it was not feasible. The ADT for SR 53 over the Irvona Bridge is 4,400. The detour would have been about 27 mi. long. Instead, the bridge remained open and the new structure was situated approximated 70 ft. upstream.

This changed the alignment of SR 53, as well as the T-intersection with SR 3005 at the north end of the old bridge. SR 3005 was diverted on a 5-mi. detour while the new alignment was being constructed.

The total construction length is approximately 1,784 ft. (544 m). The new 415-ft. (126 m) structure is a four-span Continuous Composite P/S I-Beam bridge. The lanes are 12 ft. (3.6 m) wide, with 4 ft. and 5 ft. (1.2 and 1.5 m) shoulders on either side.

While the new bridge opened for use in November 2011, a few tasks are left to be carried out this spring, including clean-up, seeding and final wearing course. The contract completion date is May 18.