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PennDOT awards contract for demolition of Donora-Webster span

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
The Donora, Webster (Kline) Bridge. Jim Ference | Valley Independent

A contract has been awarded for demolition of the century-old bridge that spans the Monongahela River between Donora and Webster, the state announced.

Beech Construction Inc., the lowest bidder at $2,601,566.39, received the contract from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

PennDOT plans to release further details about the demolition project later this summer.

PennDOT, which sought demolition proposals last month, does not plan to replace the bridge.

Built in 1908 and closed a century later, the Donora-Webster Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The span was closed in July 2009 after a routine inspection revealed several main support beams had deteriorated.

A year after it was closed, the span was renamed for Webster native and former Lt. Gov. Ernest Kline. It never reopened.

PennDOT announced in February 2012 that it would raze the bridge.

The decision, PennDOT said, was based on diminishing traffic over the bridge and the availability of other spans within a few miles.

The bridge once was used by more than 10,000 vehicles a day and was considered a regional bridge. Less than a third of that number was crossing it daily at the time it was closed. There are five bridges spanning the Monongahela River within a 10.3-mile stretch from the Belle Vernon-Speers Bridge to the Monongahela Bridge.

Replacing the Kline bridge would cost $25.5 million. In addition, it would cost as much as $10 million for engineering, utility relocation and right-of-way acquisition.

Typically, PennDOT inspects each state-owned bridge every other year. However, the Donora-Webster span was inspected annually before its closure because of its deteriorating condition. A 3-ton weight limit was imposed in 1986, when it reopened after rehabilitation work.

The bridge's condition is so poor that it remains off limits even to pedestrians.

The demolition might be completed this year.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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