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L.B. Foster's Fabricated Bridge Products: Fern Hollow Bridge Project

L.B. Foster’s Stay-In-Place Metal Bridge Deck Forms are being used in the rebuilding of an iconic Pittsburgh structure.

. steel bridge forms shown in place on the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA.

On January 28, 2022, the Fern Hollow Bridge, located in the East End of Pittsburgh, PA, collapsed, capturing national attention. The bridge first opened in 1973 and carried Forbes Avenue over Frick Park. Standing 60 feet tall and 447 feet long, the bridge was an important part of many residents’ daily commute. The collapse of this bridge created a detour for numerous Pittsburghers.

L.B. Foster is playing a major role in the reconstruction of the bridge. The Company is supplying 14,300 square feet of stay-in-place metal deck forms for the project. These forms are manufactured at L.B. Foster's Bedford, PA, plant.

Forbes Avenue is a heavily travelled road, driving the urgency to complete the Fern Hollow Bridge project as quickly as possible to prevent further delays for residents of the area.

Patrick Rodak, Sales Representative for L.B. Foster’s Fabricated Bridge Products commented, “This is a high profile and very fast paced job. We only had 3 months from bid to delivery, which is a testament to what our team can do when given a challenge.”

The bridge forms are 2 inches deep galvanized steel pans that span up to 6 feet long. After the forms are installed, the rebar is placed on top of the metal forms and the concrete is poured. The complete operation of slab deck forming, placement of rebar, and pouring of concrete is a low-cost, smooth, and uninterrupted procedure. Metal forms are being used in the reconstruction because they can remain in place, unlike wood forms that require to be removed. Once the concrete is cured, the metal forms can stay in place which saves on both material and labor costs. This is also how they earned their name, stay-in-place.

Rodak continued, "The main objective of the forms is to support the concrete when it is poured. After it has been cured, they do not serve a purpose, but do not require removal."

The use of stay-in-place forms is one difference between the old and new bridge, while another major difference is the use of prestressed concrete beams in the new bridge as opposed to steel beams. These modifications are being made to the new bridge to ensure the longevity of the structure.

This project is particularly exciting for Pennsylvania residents because the bridge materials provided by L.B. Foster, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, are being locally purchased and manufactured.

Timothy Pace, L.B. Foster’s Director of Sales of Fabricated Bridge Products pointed out, “We make the forms in Pennsylvania with steel that was melted, manufactured, and galvanized in Pennsylvania.”

The new bridge will allow the citizens of Pittsburgh to continue with their day-to-day travel without further interruption.

Rodak commented, “The completion of the bridge will mean a return to normalcy for the residents of the area and to the commuters who use Forbes Avenue.” He also added, “The collapse of this bridge will shine a spotlight on deteriorating structures in and around the city.”

L.B. Foster is proud to be a part of a project that is supporting an improvement in the city’s infrastructure, and, ultimately, the lives of its community members. With the use of L.B. Foster’s steel bridge forms, the new Fern Hollow Bridge will provide a strong and safe structure to a critical piece of Pittsburgh’s infrastructure.

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