August 21 2013

The Prominence of Pittsburgh’s Bridges

Fort Duquesne Bridge, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has always been known for being a city located along three rivers, but being able to maneuver an expanding city along these rivers means a need for transit over such obstacles. The large amount of bridges lining the skyline have played a sizable part in the history and grandeur of the Steel City, whether these are being used for pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

A 2006 study on Pittsburgh showed that there are currently 446 bridges in the city limits, which is the most of any urban area in the world. With 29 different bridges crossing the three rivers, these engineering marvels have helped expand the city of Pittsburgh from its humble beginnings in between the rivers to a large, widespread metropolitan region spreading along the water.

Birmingham Bridge, Pittsburgh

These bridges obviously have many uses throughout the city and are frequently advertised towards tourists. The Fort Pitt Bridge is known extensively as the key expressway to vehicle traffic entering the downtown area from the southern side of the city. The Roberto Clemente Bridge is known for being a gateway from the North Shore of Pittsburgh, which is home to the cities stadiums and entertainment, to another part of the downtown area. This bridge is unique as it also functions as a large bike and pedestrian pathway, and is regularly shut down for pedestrian traffic only.

With its industrial past, Pittsburgh has a large number of railroad bridges entering the city. The largest and most active of these bridges is the Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge, which, today, still carries two tracks, which are used mainly by Amtrak, as well as some industrial train usage.

While being able to boast about the large amount of bridges, the city also has the issue of maintaining these bridges and keeping them safe to use. This is an expensive problem which is a current cause of debate in the city, as many of the supports on the cities bridges are starting to crumble, and money is needed to keep the infrastructure of the cities bridges from crumbling. The future of Pittsburgh’s bridges relies on their rehabilitation, but only time will tell if the city is able to keep their record amount of bridges up and running.

With the safety of the citizens of Pittsburgh in mind, do you feel it is smart to keep and maintain so many bridges in the city?

Credits: Images taken by Greg Shermeto. Data linked to sources.

Greg Shermeto

Greg Shermeto is a recent graduate at the State University of New York at Buffalo with a B.A. in Environmental Design. While studying, Greg worked on projects including the South Buffalo Trolley and Trail System, which helped to connect the Western New York Railway Historical Society’s railroad museum to the downtown corridor. He has also worked for the University at Buffalo’s Center for Urban Studies, where Greg assisted with the redevelopment of the Perry Choice neighborhood in downtown Buffalo. Greg also spent a semester studying the built environment of the Baltic States in Estonia and Latvia. Greg’s interests include transportation planning and community design, and the efforts to make urban areas accessible and functional for the future. For the Grid, Greg will be writing about planning issues and topics about the city of Pittsburgh, where he currently resides.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 at 9:54 am and is filed under Engineering, Environmental Design, Infrastructure, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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