It has taken five years but the nearly mile-long Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway bridge over the west branch of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania is close to being completed.
At this point, the bridge's structural work is nearly done. Only few minor clean-up items remain, said Ted F. Deptula, an assistant construction engineer of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
Completion of the 4,545-ft.-long bridge that at its peak is 180 ft. over the river is slightly behind schedule but Deptula attributed that to the coronavirus pandemic.
The project, for which Trumbull Corp. of Pittsburgh was awarded a $155.6 million contract in November 2015, will be finished within budget.
Deptula explained that PennDOT added a few items so the final cost of the project will not be known until everything is added up.
While the bridge will not be open to the public until 2022, construction vehicles will begin using it next spring as paving begins on the west side of the river and at a Route 15 interchange south of Winfield.
Yet to be completed on the Northumberland side is the bridge approach from Ridge Road and a tie-in between Route 147 and the new highway in the vicinity of the Route 405 intersection, Deptula said.
A consultant is analyzing data from wind monitors to determine the need for PennDOT to issue warnings to motorists if wind speeds on the bridge reach a certain velocity, said Matt Beck, a planning engineer involved in the design process.
With the bridge nearing completion, Deptula and Beck were asked about their biggest challenge over the past five years. Neither professional could name a specific problem, but each of them commented on the complexities associated with a project of the Central Susquehanna Thruway Bridge's size.
Breaking everything down into small pieces that were manageable and lifting the large, heavy steel girders into place were among the challenges listed by Deptula.
Beck, for his part, said the environmental impact, magnitude of right of way acquisition, the hydraulics of putting a bridge of that size in a major waterway and obtaining required permits were all issues that were successfully addressed.