Saw Mill Run closed as PennDOT replaces Shaler Street Bridge using new technique
The new Shaler Street Bridge was inched into place Monday afternoon over the course of several hours and the overall work to finish the bridge is expected to take about two weeks thanks to a new construction technique PennDOT is debuting.
This is the first time PennDOT has used a new bridge construction technique where two 70-foot spans were built near the site, then slowly but surely moved into place with what’s called a self-propelled modular transporter.
It significantly reduces the time it takes to build a new span conventionally, which could take six months, according to PennDOT.
The bridge will carry Shaler Street from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne Heights neighborhood to the West End. The tedious, automated process started early Monday afternoon and was expected to take several hours.
The self-propelled modular transporter is a gargantuan piece of equipment similar to ones used in the construction of Shell’s cracker plant in Beaver County. It looks like two very large flatbed trailers that have multiple wheels. Atop the trailers are huge orange beams that support the bridge.
Work was supposed to start Monday morning but was delayed as the road base of Saw Mill Run Boulevard (Route 19) was strengthened to withstand the load, according to PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan.
PennDOT District Manager Cheryl Moon-Sirianni was joined by several engineers and contractors who watched as the prep work was done and then the equipment started to move the bridge into place.
The movement was at times barely perceptible to the eye from atop Shaler Street as the bridge was inched into place. It needed to be moved several hundred feet and the process was expected to take several hours.
Once it’s in place, work to install the bridge will be done, Moon-Sirianni said.
The work is part of a $14.55 million improvement project that also includes concrete reconstruction of Route 19, median barrier replacement, lengthening of the Wabash Street deceleration ramp, sign structure replacements, and ramp reconstruction work, according to PennDOT.
Part of Saw Mill Run Boulevard in Pittsburgh is closed until Wednesday morning because of the work, PennDOT said.
The closure is between West End Circle and the Parkway West and it’s expected to last until about 6 a.m. Wednesday.
PennDOT suggests drivers take the following detours while Route 19 is closed:
• Take the left-hand ramp to West 376/South 19 toward Carnegie/Airport
• Turn right onto Woodville Avenue
• Turn right onto Greentree Road
• Greentree Road becomes Wabash Street
• Turn right onto South Main Street
• Follow South Main Street to the West End Circle
• End detour
• From the West End Circle, take Steuben Street
• Turn left onto Short Street
• Bear right onto South Main Street
• Turn left onto Wabash Street
• Wabash Street becomes Greentree Road
• Turn left onto Woodville Avenue
• Turn right onto the ramp to I-376 Parkway West
• To continue to southbound Route 19, bear left toward South Truck 19/51 toward Uniontown
• Stay left toward East 376/South 51 toward Uniontown
• Take the South Truck 19/51 ramp (Exit 69B) toward Uniontown
• End detour
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .