Businesses in Shadyside brace for closing of bridge

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This morning, Jennifer Arienzo had not yet heard the news.

South Highland Avenue Bridge, the thoroughfare that connects Shadyside with East Liberty near the T-Mobile store where Ms. Arienzo is an assistant manager, is scheduled to close in a month for reconstruction that will take most of the year.

"Oh, wow," she said, as her coworkers groaned.

The bridge, a two-lane structure with pedestrian walkways on each side, is small, but it's widely used in a busy corridor that houses a business sector including restaurants, dentist offices, stores and fitness centers. Ms. Arienzo uses it daily, crossing it by foot to go to lunch and happy hours and driving over it for her commute to and from her home in Dormont.

Her biggest worry, though, was that customers may be deterred from visiting her store due to the construction.

"That's kind of my main concern, I would say," she said.

The bridge is scheduled to close in March and re-open in November, and construction work will close down South Highland Avenue and Ellsworth Avenue, which runs beneath the bridge, a city councilman said Wednesday.

Two bus routes -- the 71B Highland Park that runs through South Highland Avenue between Fifth and Penn Avenues and the 75 Ellsworth that runs on Ellsworth between Penn and Neville Street -- will be affected during reconstruction, according to a spokeswoman for the Port Authority.

Detour information has not yet been settled, but the 71B will likely be rerouted down Shady Avenue between Fifth and Penn and the 75 Ellsworth will travel on South Highland Avenue, Alder Street and Shady. The bridge work will also affect East Busway service, but will likely only result in three weekend closures.

The construction will certainly be inconvenient, said Danielle Lusetich, manager of the Fitness Factory on South Highland, who added that the area around the gym is already regularly crowded. The company plans to offer special incentives during the construction period.

Down the street, at Mad Mex restaurant, general manager Dominic Iaderaia wasn't worried about the bridge project, saying that he thinks people will be able to make their way around the detours. Plus, he's looking forward to a new bridge.

"I think people are kind of excited to get that bridge and corner looking nicer," he said.

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Kaitlynn Riely: First Published February 7, 2013 8:45 PM


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