For a generation, Pittsburgh's Greenfield Bridge has been a literal example of the state's crumbling infrastructure, so much so that nets were installed under it to catch falling debris and, when they proved insufficient, a second structure had to be built to keep the hazardous detritus off the busy Parkway East below.
City officials have concluded that the bridge, while still safe for travel, doesn't have much life left. Patrick Hassett, assistant public works director, told residents at a meeting Wednesday that rehabilitating the bridge would cost as much as replacing it, but that a new bridge would last a century or more, compared to only 30 years if it were merely repaired.
Work is scheduled to start in October of 2015, with the $13 million new span ready by May 2017. That means disruption for people who use the bridge to travel between Greenfield and Oakland. In addition, even more motorists will be affected for several days during the week between Christmas 2015 and New Year's because the parkway will have to close so the remains of the bridge can be dropped.
The consolation for detouring motorists, of course, is the slogan of roadwork everywhere: Temporary inconvenience, permanent improvement.