Bridges of Pittsburgh

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At least seventeen of Pittsburgh's bridges are visible in this aerial photo.

The Bridges of Pittsburgh play an important role in the city's transportation system. Without bridges, the Pittsburgh region would be a series of fragmented valleys, hillsides, river plains, and isolated communities.[1]

A 2006 study[2] determined that Pittsburgh has 446 bridges, and with its proximity to three major rivers and countless hills and ravines, Pittsburgh is known as "The City of Bridges". The city of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County are the largest owners of great bridges in the country, in proper proportion to their size, with the possible exception of the City of New York, which is built on an island and surrounded by large bodies of water.[citation needed]

According to a 2011 study by Transportation for America, 30 of Pittsburgh's bridges were deficient, the highest in the nation.[3][4]

History[edit]

Pittsburgh's first river bridges, made of wood and long since replaced, opened in 1818 at Smithfield Street and 1819 at Sixth Street (then St. Clair Street). The city's oldest in-service bridge is the current Smithfield Street Bridge, which opened in 1883; it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.[5] Pittsburgh waged a massive road- and bridge-building campaign from 1924 to 1940; most of Pittsburgh's oldest major bridges date from this period. The coming of the Interstate Highway System triggered more construction in the second half of the twentieth century, as vehicular speed and throughput requirements increased. The result of more than 100 years of bridge building is a collection of most of the major types of bridge (suspension, cantilever, arch, etc.), mostly built from locally-produced steel, including about forty river spans.

Many of the bridges in the Downtown area are colored Aztec Gold,[6] either constructed as such or painted afterward, to match the city's official colors of black and gold. A few old and out-of-service bridges, such as the Hot Metal Bridge (which stood dormant until reopening as a passenger bridge in the year 2000), are exceptions to this rule.

Major bridges[edit]

This table lists all bridges crossing the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers in the City of Pittsburgh limits.

Crossing Carries River Image Coordinates
Fort Pitt Bridge
I-376 / US 19 Truck / US 22 / US 30
Monongahela 40°26′20″N 80°00′40″W / 40.4388°N 80.0111°W / 40.4388; -80.0111
Smithfield Street Bridge Smithfield Street Monongahela 40°26′06″N 80°00′07″W / 40.4351°N 80.0020°W / 40.4351; -80.0020
Panhandle Bridge Port Authority T Light Rail Line Monongahela 40°25′59″N 79°59′53″W / 40.43306°N 79.99806°W / 40.43306; -79.99806
Liberty Bridge Connects Liberty Tunnel to Downtown Pittsburgh Monongahela 40°25′58″N 79°59′48″W / 40.4328°N 79.9968°W / 40.4328; -79.9968
South Tenth Street Bridge South Tenth Street Monongahela 40°25′57″N 79°59′21″W / 40.43250°N 79.98917°W / 40.43250; -79.98917
Birmingham Bridge Connects Fifth and Forbes avenues to East Carson Street Monongahela 40°26′00″N 79°58′25″W / 40.433361°N 79.973499°W / 40.433361; -79.973499
Hot Metal Bridge Hot Metal Street Monongahela Part of the Great Allegheny Passage rail/bike trail.
Glenwood Bridge PA-885.svg PA 885 Monongahela
Glenwood B&O Railroad Bridge Allegheny Valley Railroad Monongahela
Homestead Grays Bridge (Homestead High Level Bridge) (The Bridge to Beer) Pittsburgh PA Blue Belt shield.svg Blue Belt Monongahela
Fort Duquesne Bridge I-279.svg Interstate 279 Allegheny 40°26′39″N 80°00′33″W / 40.4443°N 80.0093°W / 40.4443; -80.0093
Roberto Clemente Bridge 6th Street Allegheny 40°26′44″N 80°00′12″W / 40.4456°N 80.0033°W / 40.4456; -80.0033
Andy Warhol Bridge 7th Street Allegheny 40°26′46″N 80°00′05″W / 40.44611°N 80.00139°W / 40.44611; -80.00139
Rachel Carson Bridge 9th Street Allegheny 40°26′48″N 79°59′59″W / 40.4467°N 79.9998°W / 40.4467; -79.9998
Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge Allegheny Valley Railroad, Capitol Limited (Amtrak train), Norfolk Southern Railway Fort Wayne Line Allegheny 40°26′54″N 79°59′46″W / 40.4482°N 79.9962°W / 40.4482; -79.9962
Veterans Bridge I-579.svg Interstate 579 Allegheny 40°27′00″N 79°59′36″W / 40.4499°N 79.9934°W / 40.4499; -79.9934
David McCullough Bridge 16th Street Allegheny 40°27′06″N 79°59′27″W / 40.4517°N 79.9909°W / 40.4517; -79.9909
Herr's Island Railroad Bridge (West Penn Bridge)
(rails removed, crosses back channel only)
Three Rivers Heritage Trail Allegheny
30th Street Bridge (crosses back channel only) 30th Street Allegheny
William Raymond Prom Memorial Bridge 31st Street Allegheny 40°27′47″N 79°58′33″W / 40.4630°N 79.9758°W / 40.4630; -79.9758
33rd Street Railroad Bridge Allegheny Valley Railroad P&W Subdivision Allegheny 40°27′57″N 79°58′25″W / 40.4657°N 79.9736°W / 40.4657; -79.9736
Washington Crossing Bridge
(40th Street Bridge)
40th Street Allegheny 40°28′22″N 79°58′07″W / 40.4728°N 79.9686°W / 40.4728; -79.9686
Senator Robert D. Fleming Bridge
(62nd Street Bridge)
PA-8.svg PA Route 8 Allegheny 40°29′28″N 79°56′17″W / 40.4912°N 79.9381°W / 40.4912; -79.9381
Highland Park Bridge Pittsburgh PA Blue Belt shield.svg Blue Belt Allegheny 40°29′21″N 79°54′43″W / 40.4891°N 79.9120°W / 40.4891; -79.9120
Brilliant Branch Railroad Bridge Allegheny Valley Railroad Brilliant Branch Allegheny 40°29′12″N 79°54′19″W / 40.4866°N 79.9053°W / 40.4866; -79.9053
McKees Rocks Bridge PA QR 3104.svg SR 3104 / Blue Belt Ohio 40°28′38″N 80°02′54″W / 40.47722°N 80.04833°W / 40.47722; -80.04833
Ohio Connecting Railroad Bridge Norfolk Southern Railway Fort Wayne Line Ohio 40°27′46″N 80°02′35″W / 40.46278°N 80.04306°W / 40.46278; -80.04306
West End Bridge US 19.svg U.S. Route 19 Ohio

Notable bridges[edit]

  • The West End Bridge is a large steel arch bridge which crosses the Ohio River. It is the first bridge on the Ohio River heading toward the Mississippi River. The bridge carries U.S. Route 19.
  • The Smithfield Street Bridge is a lenticular truss bridge crossing the Monongahela River. Its two main lenticular spans make the bridge very recognizable. It is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, according to a plaque on the bridge.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kidney, Walter C. (1999). Pittsburgh's Bridges: Architecture and Engineering. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. ISBN 978-0916670214. 
  2. ^ "Just How Many Bridges Are There In Pittsburgh?". thePittsburghchannel.com. September 13, 2006. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ Schmitz, Jon (October 19, 2011). "Bridges in Pittsburgh labeled the worst". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Busiest Bridges" (PDF). Metropolitan Bridge Rankings. Transportation for America. October 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State: Pennsylvania" (PDF). National Park Service. June 2013. p. 5. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/why-are-the-bridges-in-pittsburgh-painted-yellow/Content?oid=1335862

External links[edit]