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Work Continues on Monongahela River Bridge

Mon January 30, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero


The bridge is loaded with charges prior to implosion.
The bridge is loaded with charges prior to implosion.
The bridge is loaded with charges prior to implosion. The river spans were imploded on July 11, 2011, using 150 lbs. (68 kg) of explosives. Shortly after, foundation work began for the new structure.

Work continues on a new bridge over the Monongahela River in Monessen, Pa. The original historic bridge that linked two southwestern Pennsylvania counties for more than 100 years was imploded last summer, and the new structure should be open to traffic by next fall.

The Charleroi Monessen Bridge, which carried SR 2018 over the Monongahela River and CSX Railroad, was closed in February 2009 after a routine inspection found the bridge to be structurally deficient. It was reportedly unable to withstand a 3 ton (2.7 t) weight limit. Originally built in 1906, the bridge was rehabilitated twice, with the last rehabilitation taking place in the 1980s.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) awarded the contract for the $26.1 million design build project to Joseph B. Fay of Tarentum, Pa., in August 2010. The state will supply all the funding.

Physical construction started in March 2011, and the completion date is set for March 31, 2013. The contract calls for the replacement of the three through-truss spans and the rehabilitation of the approach spans. Preservation and other miscellaneous work will be performed as needed on the nine approach steel girder spans.

The 1,900-ft. (579 m) river spans were imploded on July 11, 2011, using 150 lbs. (68 kg) of explosives. Shortly after, foundation work began for the new structure.

The total span between the river and railroad spans is 1,013 ft. (308 m), and the structure will include 32 54-in. (137 cm) caissons for the structure foundation. The new structure will consist of two 12-ft. (3.6 m) lanes with 4-ft. (1.2 m) shoulders. The downstream side of the bridge will include a 5 ft. (1.5 m) pedestrian walkway with lookouts containing panels featuring the history of the span. The new piers also will have an architectural surface treatment that will mimic the old bridge piers.

According to PennDOT, the project presents challenges because work must be done from barges and the navigational channel remains open during construction. In addition, the bridge approach on the Charleroi side is over a residential area.

“The project includes many utilities, railroads and the Army Corps,” said Amy Costabile, PennDOT construction project manager. “As with any project, coordination and open communication is required.”

Costabile reported that the Charleroi project is unique in that it is the largest design build project in the district, and possibly state-wide.

Thomas Westrom serves as the project executive of Joseph B. Fay Company. He is the vice president of the heavy/highway division. The consultant inspection firm is the Maguire Group of Pittsburgh, and includes four to five inspectors and one NextGen operator.

Major subcontractors include American Bridge Company, Coraopolis, Pa., for steel erection; SAI Consulting Engineers Inc., Pittsburgh, design consultant for prime contractor; Superior Painting Company Inc., Allison Park, Pa., for steel painting; Zavala Inc., Pittsburgh, for electrical work and signals; Strongstown B & K Enterprise, for signs; and Amelie Construction & Supply for steel framing, re-erection of approach spans, shear studs, and various other work.

Major equipment includes track hoes, Komatsu crawler excavators, Cat excavators, a Volvo Hi-Lift rubber tire IT, 60- and 80-ft. (18 and 24 m) personnel lifts, a 50-ton picker, a Cat D-6 dozer, 300-ton cranes and a Manitowoc 4100 crane. CEG