Donora Monessen Bridge

In the early 1950's, the Pennsylvania Department of Highways began to build Legislative Route 71, a new limited-access highway to connect US 40 and Washington, PA, with the industrial Mon Valley at Speers/Belle Vernon and the Pennsylvania Turnpike at New Stanton. The road, completed in 1960, eventually was designated as I-70. However, there was no good connection between the important industrial center of Donora and I-70, several miles to the south. In the 1970's, industry along the Monongahela River was in decline as cheaper imports and lack of good road access strangled industry in the valley. As a result, PennDOT planned to built a new Mon Fayette expressway parallel to the river and a highway connecting the expressway with Donora and I-70. The first component to be built was the Donora Monessen Bridge, a deck cantilever with a 608-foot main span, the longest truss span over the entire Monongahela River. The bridge was begun in 1972 and opened in 1974. Unfortunately, highway expansion slowed to a halt in the late 1970's with the collapse of the manufacturing industry and the fuel price shocks. It was not until 1989 that the connection to I-70, the C. Vance DeiCas Highway, was built. While the Mon Fayette Expressway finally opened in the region in 2002, the connection to the Donora Monessen Bridge was never built. While the bridge does serve as a crucial highway link to Donora, it is lightly traveled because little industry exists to use it. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2009 for around $20 million. The bridge was repainted a bright yellow orange color.


Longest truss span over the Monongahela River


40.162584, -79.861336
Washington County - Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania

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