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Versailles Ave. Bridge Closed to All Traffic

City officials: Expedited inspection on Thursday raised concerns

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
February 11, 2022
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Versailles Avenue Bridge was closed Friday to both motorists and pedestrians after an inspection this week raised concerns among city officials. McKeesport is seeking funding from the federal government for its replacement, estimated to cost $8 million to $10 million. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

Citing an inspection report that determined the span had become dangerous, McKeesport officials closed the Versailles Avenue Bridge to all traffic on Friday morning.

“We received notification Thursday evening that we should be working to close this bridge within 10 days,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said Friday. “It is in the best interest of the safety of our residents that we are proactive in closing this bridge immediately, rather than waiting for any time at all.”

Both pedestrians and motorists are being asked not to use the span, a spokesperson said.

Built in the early 1970s, the Versailles Avenue bridge is almost 300 feet long and spans Ravine Street between Point Street and Wisp Alley, connecting Evans Avenue with the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, Twin Rivers Elementary-Middle School and other destinations in the Sixth Ward.

In 2016, about 4,148 vehicles used the bridge per day, according to state Department of Transportation statistics.

Motorists are being asked to follow a detour that uses Coursin Street, Fifth Avenue and Evans Street to avoid residential areas, a spokesperson said. Detour signs will be posted Monday, the city said.

Unlike most of the other bridges in McKeesport, the Versailles Avenue span is owned by the city, not the county or state. City officials have estimated that reconstruction of the bridge will cost $8 million to $10 million. McKeesport’s entire annual budget for 2022 is $25.8 million.

Cherepko told city council last week that McKeesport has been lobbying U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle and other federal officials to include funds to replace the bridge in any infrastructure spending programs.

The Versailles Avenue bridge was restricted to one alternating lane of traffic during the summer of 2021. It is one of 175 in Allegheny County rated in “poor condition” by PennDOT. (Tube City Almanac file photos)

The bridge has been restricted to one lane of traffic since July 2021 and is one of 175 in Allegheny County rated in “poor” condition by the state.

Cherepko said the bridge is subject to annual inspections by PennDOT. The last one was performed in October, he said, and another one was planned for April 2022.

With the recent collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh, Cherepko said, city officials asked for the next inspection of the bridge to be expedited.

STV Group, a national engineering firm located outside Philadelphia, conducted this week’s inspection, he said.

“We were in communication with STV and PennDOT regarding this year’s severe freeze-and-thaw cycle and the impact it can have on a damaged bridge,” he said. “One day, our temperatures are in the teens, and the next, they’re in the 50s. There’s a potential impact there that we aren’t willing to risk.”

Concrete barriers are in place at both the Point Street and Wisp Alley ends of the bridge, and a “Bridge Closed” sign has been posted along Versailles Avenue at the Evans Street intersection.

No timetable is available yet for the bridge’s repair or replacement.

Originally published February 11, 2022.

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