After the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse just over a year ago, Pittsburgh officials have been on high alert. Mayor Ed Gainey commissioned inspections on many of the city’s oldest bridges, hoping to catch any structural problems early. Officials said last week that they found problems with Oakland’s Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge that are forcing them to close it to vehicle traffic.
While the bridge will close to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use it while the city makes necessary repairs. Mayor Gainey said in a press release that he expects the repairs to take at least four months. They will cost the city between $1 million and $2 million.
The bridge spans part of Panther Hollow in Schenley Park, one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic spots. It was built back in 1938, and estimates say that it carries around 21,000 vehicles every day. Now, those vehicles will have to take an alternate route to get between the park and Oakland. And while the city already had $48 million earmarked for repairs to this old bridge, it needed work immediately.
The Charles Anderson Bridge will not be another Fern Hollow Bridge.
Sadly, when people think of Pittsburgh bridges, they think of the dramatic Fern Hollow Bridge collapse. Last January, the bridge collapsed in dramatic fashion, injuring nine and prompting a swift response from the city. While nobody died in the collapse, it highlighted the fact that Pittsburgh’s infrastructure was aging quickly. Incredibly, the replacement bridge opened in December, an impressive turnaround for the city. However, the city would prefer not to have any more collapses on its hands.
After the collapse, PennDOT did an audit of all the bridges in Allegheny County. It found that around 11% were in what it called “poor condition,” which of course left many Pittsburghers wondering: how bad must things get for the city to take action? It seems now as though the city has learned its lesson and is taking proactive action to fix its infrastructure. Hopefully, it isn’t too late for other bridges in the area.