First support beams for Fern Hollow Bridge replacement arrive in Squirrel Hill

PITTSBURGH — On Monday, after five months, the first of two beams were delivered to the Squirrel Hill side of the Fern Hollow Bridge — signaling the first big step in rebuilding.

Previous coverage: Target 11: City of Pittsburgh hires private firm to investigate Fern Hollow Bridge collapse

And Channel 11 News was there as the beams traveled from Blair County up Route 28, across the Boulevard of the Allies, and arrived at Forbes Avenue.

“These are the largest pre-stretched concrete beams that we have used anywhere,” said Cheryl Moon-Sirianni, the District Executive for PennDOT Engineering District 11.

PennDOT said the construction of the new Fern Hollow Bridge will be one of the fastest bridge rebuilds the region has ever seen, using the largest pre-stretched beams they have ever worked with.

“We didn’t have, like, a whole design we’re kind of doing along the way, which honestly, is maybe a little bit safer because we knew exactly what we were getting into,” said Moon-Sirianni.

WATCH: Video from inside Port Authority bus shows part of how Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed

If all goes well, barring any supply chain hiccups with lights and barriers both on backorder — PennDOT officials are confident that completion could be soon.

“We’re looking to hopefully have this beam up or this bridge open by the end of the year,” shared Moon-Sirianni.

Ten months is all it will take for this massive effort to be completed.

“We would not have this bridge being built safely and quickly without the governor’s support,” said Mayor Ed Gainey.

But how is this project moving so quickly? Federal dollars — 25 million to be exact — have been allotted for the rebuild. The emergency procurement process has sped up the work.

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“If we would have used a standard process it would be three years before you would have seen a shovel in the ground out here,” said Moon-Sirianni.

It’s also due to the overwhelming collaboration from federal, state, and local government as well as community input and local artists.

“We’ve hired two artists through the office of public art. One artist is charged with doing some aesthetics to the top of the bridge, and then the other artist is charged with what can be done on the columns,” explained Moon-Sirianni.

All those components have helped move construction along and put the city one step closer to improving infrastructure in the Pittsburgh region.

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“I never want to wake up again to [the news of a] collapse of a bridge,” said Gainey.

For the next two weeks, two beams will be delivered daily as they begin to ramp up construction on the rebuild.

The Fern Hollow Bridge, when in operation, sees more than 18,000 commuters daily.