New Heth's Run Bridge dedicated today on Butler Street
October 9, 2014 11:26 PM
Officals and residents attend the dedication of the new Heth's Run Bridge. The original bridge was built in 1915.
Brent Nicklas, of New Castle, Pa., installs some of the new traffic lights near the new Heth's Run Bridge on Butler Street.
Marlowe Cramer , 1 1/2, lays on the back of her father, Rob Cramer, as he talks to Olive Cramer, 4, his daughter.
A view of the side of the Heth's Run Bridge.
Ash lays to the right of the Heth's Run Bridge, part of Butler Street near One Wild Place.
By Jon Schmitz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The new Heth’s Run Bridge connects Highland Park and Morningside, but neighborhood leaders also see it as a crossing from Pittsburgh’s grimy industrial past to a future that is lush with greenery.
The $14.9 million bridge opened to traffic Thursday after a ribbon-cutting that featured effusive praise for the structure and ambitious hopes for what could follow — a planned transformation of the area with trails, trees, a soccer field and green space that would stretch under the bridge and meet the Allegheny River.
“They did a wonderful job in rebuilding this historic bridge,” said state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, who said he lobbied for the new span for 20 years.
The bridge carries Butler Street over a former fly ash dump near the entrance to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. During nearly a year of construction, traffic was moved to a temporary roadway built through the zoo parking lot.
“What it sets in motion is a remarkable transformation of this corner of the city,” said David Hance, president of the Highland Park Community Development Corp. “A dramatic replacement of gray with green.”
“When I was a kid, the message was ‘Don’t go down by the river,’ ” said state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler. “We’re changing that message.”
The 215-foot bridge was designed to retain the classic appearance of its 100-year-old predecessor, with decorative railings, urns and period lighting, said Dan Cessna, district executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “This is one of the most beautiful bridges we’ve built in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” he said.
PennDOT worked on the bridge design with Mr. Ferlo and community organizations, including the Highland Park Community Club, Morningside Area Community Council and Friends of the Riverfront.
“This is a demonstration of teamwork. This is about persistence,” said Grant Ervin, president of the Morningside group.
Mr. Vulakovich and city Councilwoman Deb Gross promised to work to secure funding for the Heth’s Run Ecological and Recreational Restoration Project. It would create green space on the area now occupied by the zoo’s parking lot and connect it with the riverfront. Eventually, it could be part of a riverfront park and trail network stretching from Downtown Pittsburgh to Oakmont, Mr. Hance said.
“We’re only just starting,” Ms. Gross said. “It’ll be many more years of work, but it’s really going to be a jewel.”
Crews continued to work Thursday on paving the bridge approaches, installing signals and striping the pavement. Temporary traffic restrictions are possible until the work is done in December. An alternating one-way pattern will be in place overnight on Butler Street between the Highland Park Bridge and Baker Street starting at 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday, with restrictions lifted by 6 a.m. each day.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868. Twitter: @pgtraffic. First Published October 9, 2014 7:26 AM
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