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PennDOT orders review of five other bridges with similar design as collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will conduct field evaluations of five bridges, including one in nearby Squirrel Hill, with structures similar to the Fern Hollow Bridge that collapsed in Point Breeze Friday.

“We are evaluating the condition of each of the bridges which have a similar structure,” PennDOT spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said in an email. “Based on initial evaluation, all of the other bridges are in fair or better condition and are currently able to carry legal loads (i.e. do not require posting for weight restrictions). PennDOT will be conducting field validations of these structures as well.”

The bridges have what is called a “K-frame” construction, a design where weight is placed on single supports that have no secondary backup. The superstructure and deck of the Fern Hollow Bridge were rated in poor condition with scores of 4 out of 9 and the substructure was rated a 6.

One of the other bridges is the nearby ramp from Beechwood Boulevard to the Parkway East in Squirrel Hill. That structure has a fair rating with scores of 7 on the deck and superstructure and 6 on the substructure.

Two other bridges in the immediate area are the Canon-McMillan Alumni Bridge in North Strabane, which received a good rating with a 7 in all three categories, and the Shenango Road Bridge in Beaver, which is rated fair with a 6 in all categories.

The others, rated in fair condition, are the Philip J. Fahy Memorial Bridge in Bethlehem and the McCullum Street Bridge in Philadelphia.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the Fern Hollow collapse that injured 10 people.

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