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Bridge blast to temporarily close turnpike Friday

| Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Pennsylvania Turnpike and Freeport Road will once again be temporarily closed Friday morning while contractors use explosives to demolish the rest of the old bridge that carried the turnpike over the Allegheny River.

Spokesman Tom Fox said traffic on the turnpike will be halted in Harmar and Plum for about 20 minutes for the blasts, which will demolish a 268-foot span of steel framework on the western side of the bridge and a 213-foot span on the eastern side. River traffic will also be restricted during the demolition, and homes in Denny Estates will be temporarily evacuated.

The center span over the main channel of the Allegheny River was demolished July 13. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is removing the bridge now that it has mostly completed two new bridges adjacent to the old one.

Allegheny County had briefly considered taking over the stone and concrete piers for the bridge in the hope of someday building a new bike and pedestrian bridge on them, but abandoned the idea due to the potential maintenance and liability costs. The contractors will move forward with dismantling the piers, Fox said.

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