Archive

Fire closes Liberty Bridge indefinitely, creates ‘unbelievable’ traffic | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Fire closes Liberty Bridge indefinitely, creates ‘unbelievable’ traffic

Madasyn Czebiniak
PTRLOLIBERTYBRIDGE090316
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
People watch a fire on the Liberty Bridge from Terminal Way on the South Side on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.
20160902libertyfire
Steve Adams | Tribune-Review
Flames are visible on Liberty Bridge as seen from behind the T Bridge on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.
20160902libertyfire2
Steve Adams | Tribune-Review
Tarps on the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh caught fire on Friday afternoon, Sept. 2, 2016.
20160902librtybridgefire3
Matt Michalko
Smoke is seen billowing from a fire on the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.
PTRLOLIBERTYBRIDGE02090316
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Firefighters spray water onto constriction tarps and the structure of the Liberty Bridge where a fire took place on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.
libertybridge
PENNDOT
A photo from a PENNDOT traffic cam shows a fire on the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.

Jack Wyke was caught up in traffic gridlock along the Parkway East as he headed to the Rivers Casino on Friday from his Wilkinsburg home.

“Unbelievable,” said Wyke, 64. “From the Squirrel Hill Tunnel all the way to town. Every way you tried to avoid it, there was traffic everywhere.”

A fire on the Liberty Bridge in the afternoon closed the span and the Liberty Tunnel to all traffic indefinitely and snarled traffic Downtown and along major arteries.

“We don’t know when it will reopen at this point,” said PennDOT’s regional spokesman Steve Cowan.

What normally would be a five-minute commute down Grant Street from the Greyhound bus station at the Grant Street Transportation Center to the Boulevard of the Allies turned into a 45 minute trip, said Don Monteleone, 65, of Penn Hills. Past the Boulevard of the Allies intersection, traffic was stopped.

“It was just terrible,” he said.

The bridge and tunnel closings are expected to add to the congestion expected with Saturday’s Pitt home opener in the afternoon, the Pirates game in the evening and the annual Kickoff and Rib Festival—all on the North Shore running from noon to midnight.

The blaze started just after 1 p.m. as construction crews working on a deck-replacement project cut steel with a blow torch, Cowan said. Sparks ignited tarps on a temporary deck installed beneath the bridge, which then set fire to plastic pipes connected to the bridge. Fire crews doused the flames through a hole in the top of bridge and had the fire under control about 1:30 p.m.

No injuries were reported.

“It appears everyone is all right,” Cowan said.

The bridge, which opened in 1928, is undergoing an $80 million rehabilitation project. The work started in April.

Crews are replacing the deck and revamping interchanges of the structurally deficient span. The project has required long-term closures of ramps to and from the Boulevard of the Allies and lane restrictions on the bridge.

Corrosion had been eating away at the 88-year-old steel above the river, and stringers that support the bridge deck are the original beams.

The bridge’s deteriorating condition triggered a weight restriction of 30 tons in 2013. That forced some heavy haulers and fire trucks to find alternate routes.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7822 or [email protected] Staff writers Jason Cato and Aaron Aupperlee contributed.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.