Heth’s Run Bridge, the first bridge I posted about in my Pittsburgh bridges project, is scheduled to be replaced by the end of next year. The notice to proceed was expected to be issued last week with construction beginning on Sept. 24 with the installation of a temporary road around the bridge, through the zoo’s parking lot. According to the schedule that was passed out at a community meeting at the end of August, the bridge is expected to close with all car traffic being diverted to the temporary road on Nov. 1st. Due to the turning radius constraints with the temporary road, trucks will not be permitted and will instead be by way of the Highland Park Bridge, Route 28 and the 62nd Street Bridge. If all goes according to schedule the bridge should reopen to all traffic on October 1, 2014. Additional road work will continue through October. After final inspections, the project is expected to be officially completed by December 8, 2014.
This is a PennDOT project expected to cost over $18.5 million and is definitely needed. As I discuss in my Heth’s Run Bridge Part II and Highland Park Bridge posts, the sidewalks here are in desperate need of repair and the proportion of sidewalk to road across the bridge is at least 50 years out of date. All this is going to be addressed in the reconstruction. The new bridge is going to have two lanes in each direction to match the roadway on either end. Additional features of the new bridge will be decorative railing, period lighting, entrance pylons, and “architectural features on the abutments with form liners” (which I believe refers to new urns). At the community meeting, it was mentioned that the current urns will be saved and kept in a warehouse until a new home is found for them.
In addition to the bridge, about 870 feet of Butler Street are going to be reconstructed including sidewalks. My understanding is that this is the part of Butler from the Heth’s Run Bridge to the ramps of the Highland Park Bridge, which should take care of my complaints about the condition of the sidewalk for those of us trying to cross the Highland Park Bridge without a car. This should also clear up the confusion for the outbound traffic of whether this part of the road is one lane or two as the plans include removing the “kink” from the existing alignment.
New signals and ADA ramps will be installed at the intersections of Butler with One Wild Place and with Baker Streets.
Another major part of the project is the excavation under the bridge to an elevation of 762. According to GoogleEarth, the bridge is at an elevation of 800 ft. I’m not sure if this will restore the bridge to its exact historic height, but it will be close (see the photo of the previous bridge from 1912). This will also pave the way for connecting this area to the proposed Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard project.
This project will no doubt cause some inconveniences during the construction process, but the construction of the temporary road will significantly cut down on this even though it adds over a month to the process. Imagine instead, everyone having to go on the truck detour or all the Zoo traffic coming down Morningside Ave and Baker Street instead of One Wild Place and Butler Street. That would be a true nightmare. Thank you, PennDOT and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for the temporary road. Thank you, PennDOT and any other funders, Sen. Jim Ferlo, Rep. Dom Costa, and anyone else who had a hand in helping bring about this long overdue project.
I can’t wait to walk over the new bridge when it’s finished!
More information about the project including the design of the temporary road can be found here: http://morningside-pa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hethsrunbridge.pdf