PennDOT planning to replace Butler Street span in Pittsburgh

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PennDOT representatives, contractors and local officials presented their plan at a community meeting Tuesday night to replace Heth's Run Bridge, a project that is likely to disrupt traffic around the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium at a major junction between Morningside and Highland Park.

The Butler Street bridge, which carries 26,722 cars each day, needs to be replaced because it is "structurally deficient," said PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan.

"This bridge has to be done now," said state Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights, in front of about 115 community members. "If we don't do it now, we won't have any money and we'll be back to square one."

The new four-lane bridge is meant to mimic the architecture of the 100-year-old bridge it's replacing and has been in development for a decade, according to Dan Cessna, a district executive at PennDOT.

PG graphic: Heth's Run Bridge
(Click image for larger version)

"We're stepping back in time 60 or 70 years to imagine what the bridge was like in its grand days," he said.

Even though most residents said they like the bridge's design, they have concerns about snarled traffic in the area.

The project calls for building a temporary roadway through the zoo parking lot while the bridge is replaced.

"It's a significant amount of vehicles on that stretch of roadway and trucks will be detoured around that area," Mr. Cowan said. "With those kinds of impacts we wanted to reach out to the community and hear their concerns."

One community member expressed frustration with the pace of PennDOT's construction.

"The Romans built roads faster than we do," he said.

The construction is slated to ramp up in the last week of September, with some preliminary construction work scheduled before that, Mr. Cowan said. The bridge is scheduled to close Nov. 1 and will be closed through October 2014, though the project may go on through December.

Another community member raised concerns about bike lanes, which state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, acknowledged won't be included on the new bridge.

"There will be problems," Mr. Ferlo said in response to numerous concerns about dust, debris and traffic light timing. "We just have to be on top of them."

The project will also include "improvements on One Wild Place and sidewalk" as well as "signal and drainage upgrades," according to a news release.

The total estimated cost of the project is about $18.7 million.

neigh_city - Transportation

Alex Zimmerman:; 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @AGZimmerman.


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