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Donora-Webster bridge demolition delayed

| Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 2:12 p.m.
The Donora Webster Bridge on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, demolition on the bridge has been delayed until the end of May and possibly until late July.
Jim Ference | Trib Total Media
The Donora Webster Bridge on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, demolition on the bridge has been delayed until the end of May and possibly until late July.

The implosion of the bridge over the Monongahela River linking Donora to Webster will not occur before the end of May and could be delayed until late July.

It initially was to take place by the end of April.

It is “highly unlikely” the implosion will coincide with the Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest times of the year for recreational boaters, said Scott Faieta, assistant construction engineer for PennDOT District 12 in Uniontown.

The delay is mainly related to the contractor's demolition plan receiving approval from PennDOT, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The bridge was closed in 2009 after an inspection revealed deterioration. A year later, the Donora-Webster Bridge was renamed for former Lt. Gov. Ernest Kline, a Webster native.

During a February 2012 public meeting in Donora, PennDOT announced it would raze the bridge. The $2.6 million demolition contract was awarded in June to Beech Construction Inc. of Carnegie.

There are seven spans on the bridge deck – three of which are over the Monongahela River.

Faieta said the demolition plan for spans one and two – over state Route 837 on the Donora side of the bridge – has been approved.

PennDOT returned the plan for spans three and four to the contractor for resubmittal. Faieta said problems with that plan are “nothing major.”

The demolition plan for spans five, six and seven – all over the river – was returned to the contractor last summer seeking more information. The contractor has yet to resubmit that plan.

“He has to get us the right information,” Faieta said.

It is not uncommon for PennDOT to ask a contractor to resubmit a demolition plan with added information, Faieta said. Faieta said that often, when the state signs off on such a plan, federal approval follows.

Prior to beginning disassembly of the bridge, the contractor surveyed it to determine what vehicles or equipment could be placed on the span during the work. When the bridge was open from 1986 to 2009, it carried a weight restriction because of its deteriorating condition.

Crews are disassembling approaches to the bridge in anticipation of the main section being imploded and dropped into the Monongahela River. That work has been completed on the Webster side.

Verizon is installing temporary telephone poles so it can remove lines connected to the bridge. Once that is accomplished, the approach spans on the Donora side will be removed.

Faieta said the approach sections might be removed by mid-April.

When the bridge is dropped into the river, an area of up to 1,000 feet from the site will be cleared. That means traffic on Route 837 in Donora and Route 906 in Webster will be shut down during the blast.

Warning whistles will be sounded, beginning 10 minutes before the implosion, Faieta said.

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