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Lingering bridge work frustrates Carnegie residents

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
The Signal Item
Road closed signs block both sides of the Morrow Avenue Bridge as construction takes place Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Kristina Serafini | The Signal Item

Bulldozers and “no trespassing” signs continue to block access to the Morrow Avenue Bridge in Carnegie, but that shouldn't last much longer.

Gary Metzinger, the owner of the cement contracting company performing the work on the bridge, said workers have completed three of four cement pours and hope to finish on schedule by the middle of February.

That could remain the case even if cold temperatures and rain this week delay the fourth pour until next week, Metzinger said.“I don't know if it will actually delay the completion. We still may be able to keep on schedule,” Metzinger said.

That likely will come as welcome news to the people affected most by the bridge's closure — Lexington Court residents, who have been inconvenienced since work began in November.

With the bridge closed, the only way to get in and out of Lexington Court comes via Newell Street off Campbells Run Road. That detour has caused plenty of problems, residents said.

“I don't have a car to get around, and some other people on the street don't, either,” said Lexington Court resident Margaret Benson. “To get out, you've got to go up (the street) and walk out Campbells Run Road, which does not have sidewalks (and) does not have a lot of berm to the road, so you're basically walking in traffic.”

Benson said her trip to Carnegie Station to catch the bus has doubled because of the detour.

People with cars don't have it easy, either. Because there is only one entry and exit to Lexington Court, residents have to turn their cars around in a tight area to get back out.

“It's tight down here (normally) to try to turn around,” resident Joe Flamm said. “With the snow, it's worse.”

The biggest frustration from residents comes from the project's start date. Originally, work was set to begin during the summer, but the contract wasn't even awarded until October.

“I think it's a lot more inconvenient that they're doing this now in the winter, when it'll take a lot longer for the cement to dry,” resident Robert Melnik said. “They could have done it during the summertime, which would have been a lot more convenient because the heat during the day could have dried it up.”

Mayor Jack Kobistek said he didn't know why the project was delayed. He said it should have been done before school started, when it would have been less of an inconvenience to residents.

“I can't imagine why it was pushed back,” Kobistek said. “It should have been a higher priority.”

To combat the cold temperatures, the contractor is using propane heaters on the cement for seven days after each pour.

Borough engineer Phil Strunk said it's in the company's best interest to keep the cement covered and heated. Otherwise, it won't reach the necessary strength of 4,000 pounds of square inch within 28 days of its pour.

The first pour, which happened in early January, involved the bridge deck. The second and third involved the sidewalks leading to the bridge and on the bridge, and the fourth will involve the bridge's walls.

While residents expressed frustration with the timing, council Vice President Pat Catena said the repairs were needed because the bridge was “in desperate need of repair.” Previously, the bridge had holes that required the installation of steel plates.

“I'm just glad it's finally getting done,” Catena said. “The sooner it'll be completed, the better off we'll be.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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