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Bridge work, North Shore garage moving forward

By Mark Belko,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Friday, January 14, 2005

The city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority hopes to get started by autumn on a long-awaited project to convert a bridge once used to haul molten iron over the Monongahela River into a pedestrian and bicycling trail.

The $6.6 million conversion of the Hot Metal Bridge linking Second Avenue and the South Side got a boost yesterday when the URA board approved an agreement with the state to provide funding for the project.

At the same time, a $30 million parking garage proposed on the North Shore to replace spaces lost to development is in line for critical state money to help move the project along.

John Coyne, URA director of engineering and construction, said the agency hopes to seek bids for the Hot Metal Bridge project by mid- to late-summer and begin work by early fall.

The work would include rehabilitation of the century-old Hot Metal Bridge to take pedestrian and bike traffic over the Monongahela River and construction of another bridge to span Second Avenue. The project would link trails on the South Side with the Eliza Furnace trail on the other side.

“This is a big, big missing link in the trail system,” URA board Chairman Tom Cox said.

The rehabilitated Hot Metal Bridge — which shares the same name and stone piers that support the adjacent vehicular bridge — would feature a 14-foot-wide concrete deck for use by pedestrians and bicyclists. Coyne said the URA still is trying to decide whether to offer separate lanes for the two groups.

The federal government will supply $6 million of the funding. The URA has applied for state funds to cover the rest. At one time the Hot Metal Bridge was used to carry molten iron from blast furnaces on the Hazelwood side to Bessemer converters and open hearth furnaces on the South Side.

To help on the North Shore, the URA board agreed to apply for $2.5 million in state funds for the $30 million garage project, which has been delayed for months by the lack of financing.

Gov. Ed Rendell already has awarded $5 million for the garage after terminating a $4 million grant to the Steelers for a proposed amphitheater on the North Shore. The Steelers and local officials had asked Rendell to shift the amphitheater grant to the garage project.

If the Sports & Exhibition Authority receives all $7.5 million from the state, it should help in efforts to secure private funding for the 1,240-space garage.

The URA board also approved a final tax increment financing plan for the $40 million overhaul of the Greyhound bus terminal Downtown.

(Mark Belko can be reached at or 412-263-1262.)

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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