In 1988, Ronald Reagan was president, the Pirates had a winning season and the South Highland Avenue Bridge was in need of repairs. That's when, according to Councilman Bill Peduto, the city added that project to the Transportation Improvement Program, a sort of wish list put together by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission when it applies for federal grants.
For reasons unknown, the project sat, and sat, and sat on the list, and was never funded or completed. Now, the bridge needs a full-fledged replacement. And now, the funding is in place to make it happen. Around 80 percent of the $3 million project will come from federal sources and the rest will come from state and local sources.
This morning, while assistant public works director Pat Hassett was in council chamber on other matters, Mr. Peduto asked about the project. Mr. Hassett replied that he not only had a start date, but he had a start time.
March 4, 5 a.m.
The project will shut down South Highland Avenue, a crucial corridor that connects business districts in both neighborhoods and shoppers to Eastside, home of Whole Foods and other retailers. It will also close Ellsworth Avenue, which runs below the bridge, because the road will require some reconstruction. It could also shut down the East Busway, which runs adjacent to Ellsworth Avenue, intermittently. Construction is slated to finish around November.
Some folks are treating it like traffic Armageddon, but if you're a pedestrian, there's reason to hope. The ethereal pedestrian bridge, now about a year old, connects Ellsworth Avenue to the Eastside complex not far from the bridge.
Mr. Peduto said he plans to host another community meeting this month to address concerns about traffic.