Around 55,000 commuters who cross the Liberty Bridge on a daily basis may need to choose a different route starting this month.
An $80.08 million renovation project begins at the end of April and finishes sometime in 2018, according to PennDOT District 11 spokesman Steve Cowan.
“(Workers) will be completely replacing the deck of the bridge along with structural steel repairs and that will occur throughout all of 2016,” he said.
There isn’t an official start date, but PennDOT is hosting information sessions from 11 a.m. to noon and noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Wintergarden inside PPG Place and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Brashear High School to detail the project, including expected closures and detour routes.
According to Cowan, workers will work in one lane at a time for approximately 40 days each. Crews will move from lane to lane, ultimately making their way across the whole bridge.
During construction, Cowan said Liberty Bridge will have two lanes inbound and one outbound between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. This will be reversed from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and after 9 p.m. there will be a single lane in each direction.
“We're going to be limiting traffic to three lanes, instead of four," Cowan said. "So there will be some significant congestion issues. We strongly suggest, if individuals have an alternate route that they can take, that they consider that route."
Cowan said there is an official detour that takes motorists in the inbound direction using the Fort Pitt Tunnel, but said Pittsburghers are “pretty savvy and we’ll find ways around it, for sure.”
With warmer spring weather, Cowan said motorists can expect more construction activities on all area roadways. PennDOT is asking drivers to use caution when entering a work zone and to obey the posted speed limits.
What about everything else?
Work on the Liberty Bridge is one of four major projects for PennDOT in 2016. Others involve completion of the Fort Pitt Tunnel improvement, Interstate 376 reconstruction near Pittsburgh International Airport and rehabbing a section of State Route 65, just north of the city.
- Parkway West: There will be overnight closures to complete work which will occur next week, according to Cowan. Two weekend closures are also planned to finish paving the Carnegie area, which is likely to occur in May. Overall, Cowan said the Parkway West closures shouldn't be too disruptive.
- Fort Pitt Tunnel: Overnight closures will begin for the outbound tunnel, looking to start the week of April 11, according to Cowan. There will be four weekend closures -- two in each direction -- which are in the process of being scheduled. Two closures are for painting the inside of the tunnel, and the other two closures are for paving inside the tunnels.
- Route 65: Work between the McKees Rocks Bridge and the Fort Duquesne Bridge is scheduled to begin this May, according to Cowan. Teams anticipate working on the southbound direction this year which involves concrete patching, asphalt overlay and bridge rehabilitation.