St. Francis demolition planned for Saturday

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Tomorrow's blast of the former St. Francis Hospital has been moved back from morning to afternoon, the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority announced.

The hospital, as well as several other properties, have to come down to make room for construction of the $290 million arena going up across Centre Avenue from Mellon Arena.

The implosion had been scheduled for early morning. That was until the authority met today with the demolition contractor, Homrich Inc. of Carleton, Mich., and the implosionist subcontractor, Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp of Tulsa, Okla.

Together, they viewed a virtual computer simulation of the event that was prepared by Applied Science International of Raleigh, N.C.

Among their concerns are weather forecasts for Saturday that call for low cloud cover during the earlier scheduled hours for the implosion.

The event has been moved to its backup time, between 2 and 2:30 p.m.

Vehicle and pedestrian traffic will be restricted around the blast site for at least an hour before and 30 minutes after the explosion.

The restrictions will form a safe zone of about a dozen blocks around the site. It is bounded by Crawford and Pride streets to the east, Fifth Avenue to the south, Washington Place to the west and Bedford Avenue to the North.

Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp., which is the subcontractor handling the implosion, and the authority recommend that residents of the Washington Plaza apartments and the Epiphany Church Rectory -- which flank the hospital -- remain indoors during the blast.

Parking will be prohibited anywhere in the safe zone, including the Mellon Arena lots, beginning at 2 a.m. tomorrow.

Any vehicles still there after 2 a.m. will be towed.

A public viewing area will be arranged at the northern end of the Melody Tent parking lot, while media cameras will be directed to a reserved location on Crawford Street between Wylie and Bedford avenues.

Sometime after 3 p.m. the Mellon Arena box office, Team Store and parking lots will be open in time for the Penguins game against the New Jersey Devils at 7:30 p.m.


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