PITTSBURGH - PennDOT officials announced a major construction project for one of Pittsburgh’s busiest bridges Monday.
State and local officials unveiled a $123 million commitment to upgrading the bridge, which carries the Parkway East over Commercial Street and Frick Park.
The bridge is 67 years old, and about 86,000 cars cross it every day. It's a key link between the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities.
PennDOT officials have not decided if they will rehabilitate the bridge or replace it, but said work won’t begin for four or five years.
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That decision will come after PennDOT does studies of the bridge and gets input from the public.
"The historic nature of this bridge is very important to the community and that'll be a big talking point as we reach out to the communities that are around this bridge," Leslie Richards, PennDOT secretary, said.
Either way, PennDOT hopes to have the least impact on traffic when construction starts.
"Please be patient with us. We have to do these things," Rep. Paul Costa said. "We'd rather inconvenience people for a little bit, than unfortunately have a devastation that we've seen in other states where bridges have collapsed."
In the meantime, officials said they are working to make sure the bridge doesn't deteriorate further.
"There have been many areas that have been causing us concern for several years," Richards said. "Everyone should feel safe about being on this bridge. I don't want anyone to feel unsafe at all. We are always looking and making sure that all our bridges that are open and safe for travel. But we have to look at it now, so we don't get into a situation where we have an emergency closure."
PennDOT says all of the public discussions, the engineering and design studies and other preparations are going to take awhile.
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