Tuesday, July 13, 2010
It carried turnpike traffic for more than half a century but it took only a few seconds to reduce the Allegheny River Bridge to scrap metal this morning. Crews used 200 pounds of explosives to take down the structure. Over the last few weeks all of the bridge decking was removed to facilitate clean up. The Turnpike must have the main channel of the Allegheny free of debris by 10:00am Wednesday and the rest of the river must be clear 24 hours later. Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier says crews will take a few weeks to clear the metal from the island under the bridge and the back channel. The old four-lane bridge was built in 1950, just ten years after the turnpike opened. The river is now spanned by a pair of 2,300-foot twin three-lane bridges 150-feet above the water’s surface. One of those bridges is now carrying traffic in both directions and the second bridge will open in November. The project, including the constructions of the bridges, improvements to the highway leading up to the span and demolition of the old bridge is expected to cost $189 million. Brimmeier says he was pleased with the demolition. Traffic on the turnpike was stopped before the explosion and after crews checked the bridge the highway was reopened around 10:30.