What was formerly one of the ugliest and most deteriorated structures in Pittsburgh had its official rebirth on Wednesday as the city reopened the Lower McArdle Roadway bridge on the South Side.
Wearing a new coat of green paint and $10 million in structural improvements, the bridge fairly gleamed as dignitaries welcomed its return.
The bridge and road, which serve as a key connection between Mount Washington and the South Side, have been closed since January 2011. Officials had hoped to complete the reconstruction by the end of last year, but freight train traffic under the bridge kept interrupting the work.
"It was well worth the wait," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said, joking that among those happy to see the bridge reopen were "residents who are too cheap to buy a ticket to get into South Stadium" (now Cupples Stadium), which can be seen from the bridge walkway.
"Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights are open for business," said city Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who represents those neighborhoods. "Come up and pay us a visit. Now you have quick and easy access."
Mr. Ravenstahl noted that it was the third major infrastructure improvement in that part of the city this year. Repairs were made to failed retaining walls on the upper part of McArdle Roadway and on Wyoming Street. "The safety of our streets is of the highest priority," he said.
The steel truss bridge, erected in 1933, carries Lower McArdle over Norfolk Southern Railway tracks. On a typical day about 12,000 vehicles cross it, said Rob Kaczorowski, city public works director.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation paid most of the project cost, officials said.
Patrick Hassett, the city's assistant public works director for transportation and engineering, said costs rose slightly because of the delays, as the city had to pay flaggers and inspectors for extra time on the job site.
"There were a lot more trains than we anticipated," he said. Every time a train approached, a dispatcher would notify the flaggers, who cleared the tracks.
Before the project, Lower McArdle saw years of weight restrictions and detours because of deterioration of two bridges, one of which was repaired and reopened in 2004.
A 3-ton weight limit was in effect on the bridge over the tracks for more than a decade. The city performed about $300,000 in interim repairs in 2007 to keep the bridge open while it awaited funding for major reconstruction. The project included deck replacement, steel repairs and painting.
Key connection between South Side and Mount Washington
has been closed since January 2011 for structural improvements
First Published August 23, 2012 4:00 AM