Resolution rethinks use of county bridges

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Six months ago, the Roberto Clemente Bridge was closed to traffic and instead packed with people wandering through a market made up of food and arts vendors and eyeing a giant rubber duck stationed on the Allegheny River below.

Allegheny County Counciliman Ed Kress isn't suggesting bringing back the duck.

But the Republican from Shaler is suggesting holding more events on county-owned bridges such as the Clemente.

Tonight, Mr. Kress plans to introduce a resolution that calls for Allegheny County to discuss ways to facilitate increased use of the Roberto Clemente Bridge for special events, especially during the days or nights it is already closed to traffic so people can cross for Pirates baseball games at PNC Park.

"What I'm just trying to do is try to change our view of the bridge itself, not just as a structure for transportation, but also as a structure for a venue," Mr. Kress said.

He said he also sees it as a way to bring in additional revenue for the county, while highlighting one of Pittsburgh's best-known features -- its bridges. His resolution mostly focuses on the Clemente Bridge, but it also suggested that the Andy Warhol and the Rachel Carson bridges, sister county-owned bridges that cross the Allegheny River within a four-block area, could be event venues, too.

Jimmy Cvetic, who runs the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League, has been talking to Mr. Kress about the idea, and said he wants to hold a boxing show on the Clemente bridge this summer.

"We want to showcase the city," he said.

Peter Landis, a managing partner at Perle restaurant and champagne bar in Market Square, said the bridge party  proved that a bridge event is "a format that was successful."

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership organized a night market, featuring about 70 arts and food vendors, for the Rubber Duck Bridge Party held by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Sept. 27, which started the Trust's International Festival of Firsts.

He suggested that future events on the bridge could include a county fair-type event, or a restaurant night, where tables are set up and people can order meals and eat on the Clemente bridge.

Mr. Kress, noting that Mr. Fitzgerald plans to give his quarterly address to County Council tonight, said he wasn't sure that his resolution would get much more than a brief introduction. He expects it will be referred to his newly formed marketing committee for more discussion.

Correction (Published Mar. 18, 2014): An earlier version of this story incorrectly credited the organization that organized the Rubber Duck Bridge Party.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.

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