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Work begins on south shore park, pedestrian bridge


On Thursday, Oct. 26, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) hosted a groundbreaking event to celebrate commencement of work on the South Shore Riverfront Park and the Hot Metal Pedestrian Bridge.

The URA began working with Soffer Organization, the South Side Local Development Company, community, business and philanthropic leaders and government partners to plan, design and construct a new public park – South Shore Riverfront Park, in 2000.

The completed park is estimated to cost $10.5 million and will re-connect the neighborhood to the riverfront with riverfront trails, docking facilities for recreational boats, water taxi access, fountains, and five acres of beautifully landscaped urban green space. The park preserves portions of the historic steel mill infrastructure, including the mill's original riverwall. A steel stair and catwalk structure will link the upper and lower trails and will ascend through the mill's former pump house and wharf structures.

Funding for the South Shore Riverfront Park comes from key philanthropic, government and private partners. These include the Heinz Endowments, RK Mellon and an anonymous foundation; the Federal Economic Development Initiative and transportation funds; Pennsylvania Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources funds; and NiSource and the Soffer Organization. This funding will allow the initial site grading, pre-development and related activities to begin at this time.

The park was designed by the award-winning Environmental Planning and Design, LLC (EPD), whose previous work includes Washington's Landing and Mellon Square.

The park will provide improved access by way of the Hot Metal Pedestrian Bridge. It will connect the nearly 1,200 employees at the Pittsburgh Technology Center to retail and dining on the South Side and create critical trail links. The 10-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail will now extend from the Golden Triangle to the South Shore Riverfront Park and to Oakland. Beyond this, it will connect to the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile biking and hiking trail that when complete will go all the way to Washington, DC.

The completion of the Great Allegheny Passage is spearheaded by the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of seven rails-to-trails organizations that was recently awarded the Bicycle Travel Champion Award from Adventure Cycling Association.

The Hot Metal Bridge Pedestrian Project involves the conversion of the railroad bridge adjacent to the existing vehicular bridge into a structure for pedestrians and bicyclists. Originally constructed in the early 1900's, this historic structure allowed hot metal railroad cars to transport molten steel from furnaces at the Jones and Laughlin Steel SouthSide Works to its steel production mills on the north side of the Monongahela River.

The project scope includes three main components: a switchback ramp on the South Side of the main river crossing, and a bridge over Second Avenue to connect to the Eliza Furnace Trail. The main river crossing, over 1,000 feet, includes structural repairs and a new concrete deck, along with small belvederes to provide users with unique unobstructed views towards downtown Pittsburgh.

The new bridge spans over Second Avenue and lands on the Eliza Furnace trail where perpendicular tee ramps extend toward both downtown and Oakland. All components will have distinct pedestrian railing and new lighting.

The URA has been working on the Hot Metal Pedestrian Bridge since 1998. The URA worked with key project advocates, including the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Trail Alliance, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to develop the funding package and complete the design. Construction costs for the bridge, estimated at $10,100,000 will be fully funded by federal funds and administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Penndot).

The URA, through an approved procurement process, hired Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade and Douglas (PB) in October 2003 to act as the project designer. The URA and PB worked diligently from 2003 to 2006 to complete the design and obtain Penndot's approval. In summer 2006, the URA awarded the construction contract to Brayman Construction. Construction management and inspection are being completed by Trumbull Corporation. The project is expected to be completed in November 2007.

The SouthSide Works as a whole is more than 80 percent complete. Its mix of uses includes more than 3,000 employees and 500 residents. Employment numbers are expected to double in the next five years to more than 6,000 as the next phases of development will be densely concentrated.


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