Bridge linking Shadyside, East Liberty to close for reconstruction
The Highland Avenue Bridge spans Ellsworth Avenue, the Martin Luther King East Busway and the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
The new Highland Avenue Bridge will solve the low height restriction on Ellsworth Avenue.
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There are bridges that inspire poetry and paintings. The South Highland Avenue Bridge is not one of them.
The thoroughfare, which connects Shadyside and East Liberty with its two lanes and two pedestrian walkways, is an ancient-looking structure covered in rust and graffiti.
It is, to put it plainly, a bridge about which no song has been sung and no book has been dedicated.
Yet soon it will be sorely missed.
The bridge is scheduled to close March 4 for a reconstruction project that will take most of the year. Jennifer Arienzo, assistant manager at a T-Mobile close to the bridge, first heard the news Thursday morning.
"Oh, wow," she said, as her co-workers groaned.
The passageway 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, walking across it 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.
A new bridge is scheduled to reopen in November, and construction work will close South Highland Avenue and Ellsworth Avenue, which runs beneath the bridge, city Councilman Bill Peduto said Wednesday.
Two bus routes -- the 71B Highland Park that runs on 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 been settled yet, but the 71B likely will be rerouted along Shady Avenue between Fifth and Penn, and the 75 Ellsworth will travel on South Highland Avenue, Alder Street and Shady. The bridge work also will affect service on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway but likely will result in just three weekend closures, causing a detour onto local streets for the P1 East Busway-All Stops route.
The construction certainly will be inconvenient, said Danielle Lusetich, manager of the Fitness Factory on South Highland, who added that the area around the gym already is 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.
First Published February 8, 2013 12:00 am