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Survey says: 'Aztec Gold' favored color for three Sister Bridges


Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto announced that the “Three Sisters Bridges” – Roberto Clemente (Sixth Street), Andy Warhol (Seventh Street) and Rachel Carson (Ninth Street) – will remain “Aztec Gold” when they are painted during rehabilitation over the next few years.

The county executive and mayor had invited the public to weigh in on whether to change the color of the bridges over the past few weeks.

“The results of our poll weren’t surprising, but we are glad to see so many people who participated in the dialogue and discussion on this issue,” said County Executive Fitzgerald. “The residents of this region obviously identify the Pittsburgh Yellow or, officially, Aztec Gold, as part of Pittsburgh’s landscape. We’re thrilled to be able to ensure that picture continues to be what the public sees for decades to come.”

The three bridges, built between 1924 and 1928, are owned by Allegheny County. They are historically 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. They are among the only surviving examples of large eyebar chain suspension bridges in America.

The bridges were designed by the county’s Department of Public Works and built by the American Bridge Company; the substructure was built by the Foundation Company. In 1986, the Three Sisters Bridges were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1988, they were designated as an architecturally significant structure by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and in 1999, were added to the list of bridges documented by the Historic American Engineering Record.

The county’s Department of Public Works will be rehabilitating the structures in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). The bridges will receive total deck replacement, structural steel repairs, substructure repairs, point masonry joints in piers, deck joint replacement, placement of scour protection around the piers, cleaning flushing and repair of downspouts and scuppers, repair or replacement of utility conduits and supports and replacement of existing lighting fixtures, in addition to a total repainting of the superstructure.

“This was a good civic exercise -- it showed when people think of Pittsburgh they think of the sisters bridges, and when they think of the sisters bridges they think of Aztec gold,” Mayor Peduto said. “One of the special things about Pittsburgh is there are ways in which we are identified that are iconic. These colors have become part of the fabric and the tradition of our city.”

Preliminary design of all three bridges began in 2014, with the final design of the Andy Warhol Bridge underway in 2015. Currently, the project schedule provides for advertisement, bids and opening of bids to occur in early 2016 with construction beginning on the Andy Warhol Bridge in spring 2016.

The bridge will be closed for rehabilitation through fall 2017 to complete the rehabilitation. After its completion, the Rachel Carson and then the Roberto Clemente Bridge will follow at approximately two year intervals. All three bridges are expected to be complete in the fall of 2021.

Beginning on June 19, the public was invited to weigh in by voting in an online poll.From June 19 through 8 a.m. July 3, 12,441 votes were received (voting was limited to one vote per device). Of those responses, 84.62 percent voted to keep the bridges their current color.The total responses/percentages for each poll question follows:

The Sisters Bridges should remain Pittsburgh yellow:10,527 votes or 84.62 percent.

The Warhol Bridge should be painted silver gray and the Carson Bridge should be painted green:837 votes or 6.73 percent.

I don’t care if the bridges stay Pittsburgh yellow, but they should all be the same color:1 vote or .01 percent.

Why are you limiting us to just these three colors?1,076 votes or 8.65 percent.


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