In November 2017, Larson Design Group inspected the longest structure in Allegheny County, PA – the 7,293-ft.-long McKees Rocks Bridge five miles northwest of Pittsburgh— as part of a biennial inspection contract with PennDOT District 11-0. The steel trussed through arch bridge carries Pittsburgh’s Blue Belt across the Ohio River, making it an essential part of the daily commute for some 23,000 vehicles a day.
“Because of the bridge’s location, we dealt with heavy morning and afternoon rush hour traffic on the bridge’s three lanes,” said Bill Sosko, project designer in LDG’s bridge inspection and maintenance department. “We worked with PennDOT to establish a timeframe during which we could work, usually from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. We planned our work opposite the flow of traffic to keep cars moving as much as possible.”
But paying careful attention to field notes wasn’t the only complication when it came to inspecting the bridge. “It’s an urban setting, and the bridge spans a petroleum distribution company, a water treatment plant, and two railroads,” said Sosko.
Before the inspection could take place, the LDG team had to work with all three entities to coordinate schedules and gather the appropriate permissions.
“I went to the petroleum distribution company and spoke to the foreman about getting permission to access the bridge from their property,” said Sosko. “His primary concern was safety. We discussed LDG’s safety standards and found that they were right in line with the foreman’s expectations. We also assured the foreman that we’d yield right-of-way to traffic coming into and out of the plant so we wouldn’t slow down their operation.”
Sosko then contacted the wastewater treatment plant. “We discussed our safety requirements during our initial phone call, and worked with their security guards during the inspection,” he said. “The petroleum distribution company and the WWTP were both very generous in granting us access to their properties.”
After getting permits from each of the railroad companies that pass under the bridge and coordinating with the railroad schedules, the bridge inspection took a week and a half to complete. “The coordination paid off,” said Sosko. “We were able to complete the inspection of an enormous bridge with minimal impact to the surrounding businesses and as little disruption as possible to the people who rely on the bridge for their daily commute.”
Due to the bridge’s incredible length, the inspection was broken into two parts. Sosko will lead LDG’s inspection of the second half of the bridge in summer 2018.
About Sosko: Sosko has over 30 years of bridge inspection experience. An interview with Sosko was featured in the Winter 2018 edition of the ASHE Scanner.