Roberto Clemente Bridge

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Roberto Clemente Bridge
Pittsburgh Pirates Game 254.jpg
The Bridge with Downtown Pittsburgh in the background.
Coordinates40°26′44.1594″N 80°0′11.8794″W / 40.445599833°N 80.003299833°W / 40.445599833; -80.003299833Coordinates: 40°26′44.1594″N 80°0′11.8794″W / 40.445599833°N 80.003299833°W / 40.445599833; -80.003299833
CarriesSixth Street
CrossesAllegheny River
LocaleAllegheny, Pennsylvania, United States
Official nameRoberto Clemente Bridge
Other name(s)Sixth Street Bridge
Named forRoberto Clemente
Maintained byAllegheny County
DesignSuspension bridge
Total length884 ft (269 m)
Height78 ft (24 m)
No. of spans3

The Roberto Clemente Bridge, also known as the Sixth Street Bridge, spans the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.


First bridge[edit]

The original bridge at the site was a wooden covered bridge with six spans, probably using Burr trusses. It was built in 1819 by a contractor named Lothrop.[1]

Second bridge[edit]

Roebling's second version (1859) of the Sixth Street Bridge.

In 1859, the second Sixth Street Bridge was built by John A. Roebling. This was his third and final bridge in Pittsburgh. His eldest son Washington Roebling worked with him on the bridge after completing his degree in engineering.

This bridge had two main spans of 343 feet (105 m), with shore spans of 179 feet (55 m).[2] The floors were suspended from wire hangers, which were suspended from wire catenaries. This bridge was demolished in 1892, as it was too narrow and fragile to support modern transportation demands.

Third bridge[edit]

In 1892, the third Sixth Street Bridge was built by engineer Theodore Cooper for the Union Bridge Company. The main spans were 440 feet (130 m) long, each having through trusses of the camel-back type with upward-angled upper chords. The spans were twice as wide as the previous bridge.

In 1927 the bridge had to be taken apart because the steelwork was too brittle for safety. That year, the main spans were somewhat trimmed down temporarily from their 80-foot (24 m) height. They were lowered onto barges and floated down the Ohio River to the back channel of Neville Island, where they were used as part of the Coraopolis Bridge. Finally in 1994 the steel was scrapped.[3]

Current bridge[edit]

The current bridge was completed on September 29, 1928. It is one of the ‘Three Sisters’ bridges, which include the 7th and 9th Street bridges. The three bridges are nearly identical self-anchored, eye-bar suspension type. The horizontal pull of the top cords is resisted by the steel girders along each side of the roadway. The suspension system consists of 14" eye-bars extending from end to end, having two pins on the top of each tower and carrying the roadway by 4" eye-bar suspenders at the panel points. The stiffening system consists of triple web-plate girders placed parallel to the road grade. The girders are subjected to stresses due to bending combined with direct compression. [4]

All three bridges were fabricated and erected by American Bridge (AB). In an innovative approach, AB turned the eye-bar catenary/deck girder system temporarily into a truss by adding a diagonal to enable erection by balance cantilever. This avoided falsework in the river.[4]

The bridge was later formally named the Roberto Clemente Bridge after baseball legend Roberto Clemente, who played his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.


Named for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player Roberto Clemente, it is one of three parallel bridges called The Three Sisters. The Three Sisters are self-anchored suspension bridges and are significant because they are the only trio of nearly identical bridges—as well as the first self-anchored suspension spans—built in the United States. Over 720 bridges link the city districts.[5]

The Sixth Street Bridge's piers were built with arched openings beneath the river bed in order to accommodate future subway tunnels, following the recommendation of transportation planner Bion J. Arnold.[6] The North Shore Connector tunnels completed in 2012 did not make use of this provision, but were bored further west (downstream) and do not pass beneath the bridge.

The bridge was renamed on August 6, 1998, as part of a compromise after the Pirates sold the naming rights to PNC Park to locally based PNC Financial Services. Before the naming rights were sold, there was hugely popular sentiment in Pittsburgh to name the park itself after Clemente.[7]

It is closed to vehicular traffic on Pirates' and Steelers' game days, providing a pedestrian route to PNC Park and Heinz Field. When PNC Park was built, a statue of Roberto Clemente, originally erected at Three Rivers Stadium, was placed at the southeast corner of the park, right at the north anchorage of the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in cooperation with the Riverlife Task Force, the City of Pittsburgh, and Duquesne Light Company, funded and managed the architectural lighting of the bridge. On November 20, 2002, the bridge was lit for the first time.

Plaque on the North Shore of the Sixth Street Bridge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilkins, W.G. (1895). "The Reconstruction of the Sixth Street Bridge at Pittsburgh, Pa". Proceedings of the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania. 11: 144. Archived from the original on 2018-05-07.
  2. ^ Collingwood, Francis (1884). ""On Repairing the Cables of the Allegheny Suspension Bridge at Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S.A."". Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 76 (1884): 334–345. doi:10.1680/imotp.1884.21658. Retrieved 2022-05-12.
  3. ^ Kidney, Walter C. Pittsburgh's Bridges: Architecture and Engineering. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 1999.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2015-09-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Pittsburgh. (2010). In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. Retrieved from
  6. ^ Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-490, "Three Sisters Bridges" Archived 2017-02-03 at the Wayback Machine, p. 36.
  7. ^ Flinn, Stephen (September 1998). "Pittsburgh Sports Report: Clemente Bridge: Too Much or Too Little? Ariba's Popularity Extends From Fans to Collectors". Archived from the original on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.

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