Community offers feedback on design of pedestrian bridge

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Above: The current bridge in Allegheny Commons park will be torn down once the project has funding. (Photo courtesy Allegheny Commons Initiative)

The Allegheny Commons Initiative hosted a public, community meeting to discuss design ideas for the replacement pedestrian bridge linking Lake Elizabeth and Central Northside to the Iron Deer and Allegheny West on Monday, October 24 at the Children’s Museum. The purpose of the meeting was to gain community feedback.

At the meeting, which was held at the Children’s Museum, Paul Tellers of WTW Architects and Sara Thompson of Pashek Associates addressed the design of the replacement bridge in Allegheny Commons.

"The ped bridgeis being demolished because it is in extremely poor condition, and falling debris could be hazardous for passing trains," said Alida Baker of the Allegheny Commons Initiative.

Tellers, who is part of the steering committee, volunteered his design services, while Thompson is working under a small contract in place with Pashek Associates. Wilbur Smith Associates volunteered their services for the engineering and construction documents.

Tellers and Thompson presented five options of redesign for the pedestrian bridge, which included a 1960s-style, girder bridge, truss bridge, basket weave and a truss bridge with plants and patio-style end-caps.  

“I think a new bridge presents an opportunity to stitch the park back together and potentially be another asset to the city,” said Thompson.

As the existing pedestrian bridge’s arch does not provide clearance on its sides for trains, it will be demolished and most likely redesigned. A replication of the bridge would be too costly and difficult, as the arch that is currently at 23 feet, would have to exceed its current elevation.

Extending the arch elevation would require longer and steeper ramps to access the bridge deck. As the bridge is concrete it would have to be cast in place which would mean stopping railroad traffic.

Funding for the new pedestrian bridge is not yet determined because the planning is at the early stages and a budget is not currently set. Once planning is underway, Tellers roughly estimated the reconstruction of the bridge may take about a year and half.

The community had differing responses to altering the bridge and its arch. Some wished to not alter the arch such as community member, Fran Barbush, who said that she liked “keeping the arch as a feature in the bridge, because it mirrors the angulations of the land in the park.”

Tellers said he, “appreciated the input because that was the purpose of the meeting.”

The committee will review feedback and ideas gained at the meeting and come together to decide which bridge meets the requirements of the community.

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