WESA-FM: State to provide additional funding to speed up 3 Pittsburgh bridge repair projects

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is directing $132 million to help repair three key local bridges, officials announced Thursday. But don’t expect the resulting work to disrupt your commute any time soon.

The money is a mix of state and federal funds, including funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It’s meant to help offset the impact of high-cost projects.

“These projects are costly, but they’re important for the entire region here in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and we can’t put off these upgrades for too much longer,” said Lt. Gov. Austin Davis at a Thursday-morning press conference.

Nearly half the money, $60 million, will be added to state and federal dollars already allocated to renovations of the Fort Duquesne Bridge. In total, it will cost an estimated $162 million to repair the main span of the bridge, as well as the ramps feeding into it.

The West End Bridge will get $47 million, which will help cover the $120 million projected total cost. Other state and federal money will cover the rest of the cost.

PennDOT is also committing $25 million to the repair of the McKees Rocks Bridge; upgrades that are expected to require $90 million to complete.

“The West End and McKees Rocks bridges are nearly 100 years old,” Davis noted. “We want them to be here for another 100 years.”

Together, the bridges carry more than 310,000 people across the rivers each day.

Design and construction on the projects can move more quickly now that they’ve received additional funds, added PennDOT secretary Mike Carroll. Plus, money that would have gone towards repairing the three bridges can now be spent elsewhere in the region.

“So it’s really good news for Allegheny County, and it’s equally good news for the counties that constitute the southwest region,” Caroll said.

But don’t expect the construction to impact your commute anytime soon. Caroll warned that the projects still need to be designed, so the timeline “will be measured in years.”

“But the good news is, that would be far fewer years than it would have been without the money,” he added. “Compiling the money necessary to deliver these major projects and do all the other things that PennDOT has to do is a real challenge.”

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