Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Build a Bridge Out of Her!

When I go for local transportation news, I got to The Pitt News:

The Bates Street bridge is a notorious traffic problem that causes tie-ups that can sometimes stretch for miles. Drivers of standard-sized, 13-feet-6-inch tractor-trailers, often realize too late that they can’t make the 11-foot-6-inch clearance and subsequently scrape the top of their vehicles. But after decades of commercial vehicle accidents, the city expects to replace the battered bridge this summer.

Using $3.6 million of city, state and federal funds, the city will replace the old railroad bridge with a taller, wider bridge, said Chuck McClain, the city’s project manager for bridges and structures. The new bridge will accommodate the proposed Mon/Fayette Expressway into Oakland — and 17-foot-6-inch tall trucks.

Bridge construction was supposed to start this spring, but conflicting requirements of two federal funding sources pushed back the construction. McClain said in a follow-up e-mail that he hopes construction will begin in mid-summer.
Take that Joe Grata!

Now, not having seen the plans I can only speculate*, but the one thing that I'd really like to see is...well...

Awhile back I complained (or at least I think that I complained) about the Walnut Capital project along Brownshill Road, on the Pittsburgh side of the Homestead Grays Bridge. After all the work done by the City on Summerset to make it an "Urban Neighborhood", Walnut Capital threw up (pun intended) what amounts to a strip mall. To make matters worse, as part of a widening of Brownsville Road (obviously so that more "husky" folk can make their way to the all-you-can-eat seafood place in the stripmall), the City tore down the old stone retaining wall on the Eastern edge of the road.

I am by no means a luddite or a historic preservationist zealot, so I can appreciate that sometimes the old needs to get torn down and replaced with the new. However, in this case, and in the case of the West Busway along Carson Street, the decision to tear down these old retaining walls seems to detract from the City's industrial history. I mean, there's no way that anyone ever is going to build those types of walls again; the masonry skill alone is something that very few people have, with the exception of a few little old Italian guys in Bloomfield. That makes it all the more important to try to save these monumental walls whenever possible.

How does this tie into the Bates Street bridge? Well, at some point, in order to open up the Northern section of the ALMONO site a similar wall will have to be torn down. Across 2nd Avenue, you have a patchwork of block, concrete, and fake-block concrete holding back the Jail-Trail. While it may be more difficult, it would be great to find a way to reuse this old wall, and rebuild and refurbish the existing wall so it (1) reflects the historic character of that place and (2) makes it look less sad and pathetic. If the City is looking to rebuild this bridge, it should seriously take into account the historicity of the place.

* My guess is that, like the Hot Metal connecting bridge, this will be a prefab steel structure to hasten the demolition of the existing bridge and the completion of the new bridge.


MH said...

Mayor Ravenstahl, don't tear down this wall.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Perhaps the stones from the old wall can be used on the inbound 2nd Ave, now 2 lanes, but going to be just 1, when the bridge is OUT. They would be better yhan jersey barriers.

dg said...

Help! You had me until you used the word "historicity."

Bram Reichbaum said...

When the hell is the IHOP opening is what I want to know, how close is it to the sushi house, and will I be able to order a maguro omelet.