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New bridge restores identity for Pittsburgh's Greenfield neighborhood

Theresa Clift
| Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, 4:55 p.m.
The May Day Marching Band leads partiers across the Greenfield Bridge during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The May Day Marching Band leads partiers across the Greenfield Bridge during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Anette Cardenas 11, of Greenfield (right) gives her sister Genesis Cardenas, 9, a little help during a tricycle race across the during the Greenfield Bridge during a celebration to mark the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Anette Cardenas 11, of Greenfield (right) gives her sister Genesis Cardenas, 9, a little help during a tricycle race across the during the Greenfield Bridge during a celebration to mark the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Emma Block 2, of Squirrel Hill plays in a fort made of cardboard boxes at the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the Greenfield Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Emma Block 2, of Squirrel Hill plays in a fort made of cardboard boxes at the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the Greenfield Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Sara Tang of Friendship (left) and Zora Gilbert, of Regent Square attempt to help up the May Pole during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Sara Tang of Friendship (left) and Zora Gilbert, of Regent Square attempt to help up the May Pole during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Casandra Snyder, of Oakdale and a member of Fantastic Adventure waits under her tent during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the Greenfield Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Casandra Snyder, of Oakdale and a member of Fantastic Adventure waits under her tent during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the Greenfield Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Duane Irate Jones, of Bloomfield, kneels in the middle of the May Day Marching Band as it warms up before leading  partiers across the Greenfield Bridge during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Duane Irate Jones, of Bloomfield, kneels in the middle of the May Day Marching Band as it warms up before leading partiers across the Greenfield Bridge during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Pittsburgh officials cut the ribbon, officially opening the Greenfield Bridge during a festival to celebrate the reopening of the bridge on Saturday. (Trib photo)
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh officials cut the ribbon, officially opening the Greenfield Bridge during a festival to celebrate the reopening of the bridge on Saturday. (Trib photo)
Bethany Davidson, of Pittsburgh holds her son, Jackson Dash, 3,  on her lap as they race Jackson's dad, Andrew Dash during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the Greenfield Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Bethany Davidson, of Pittsburgh holds her son, Jackson Dash, 3, on her lap as they race Jackson's dad, Andrew Dash during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the Greenfield Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Mika Metz of Garfield carries his sousaphone to meet up with the May Day marching band for the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Mika Metz of Garfield carries his sousaphone to meet up with the May Day marching band for the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Eva Lupu, 3, of Friendship stands along the fence in the middle of the Greenfield Bridge during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Eva Lupu, 3, of Friendship stands along the fence in the middle of the Greenfield Bridge during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Jonathan Lahaie, of Morningside tries to look over the edge while holding the hand of his dad, Brent Lahaie, who is originally from Greenfield during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Jonathan Lahaie, of Morningside tries to look over the edge while holding the hand of his dad, Brent Lahaie, who is originally from Greenfield during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Dina Cominos 6, of Point Breeze (left) and Skylar Egbert 6, of Oakland wait for an oversized game of Jenga to topple during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Dina Cominos 6, of Point Breeze (left) and Skylar Egbert 6, of Oakland wait for an oversized game of Jenga to topple during the Greenfield Bridge Party, an event to celebrate the reopening of the bridge, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

Before its demolition in the fall of 2015, the crumbling-yet-beloved Greenfield Bridge had become a national icon for failing infrastructure.

The 93-year-old bridge was featured on “60 Minutes” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

“They built a bridge under the bridge,” Oliver said during the March 2015 episode of the HBO comedy show. “That is a college sophomore approach to structural engineering.”

The Greenfield neighborhood's identity suffered.

“For so long, the public identity has been, ‘Oh — that's the neighborhood with the crumbling bridge with the diaper underneath it,' ” said Geoff Campbell, who's lived in Greenfield for 13 years.

This weekend, as the new bridge opens, a piece of the neighborhood's pride is restored.

“It's nice to have access to the (Schenley) park again,” said Nick Kennedy, who moved to the neighborhood a year before the bridge was demolished. “Greenfielders love to use the bridge to get back and forth to the park.”

Campbell's teenage daughter started running when the bridge was closed, leaving few places to run in the hilly Greenfield neighborhood.

“Now she'll get to experience the run I had,” said Campbell, president of the Greenfield Community Association.

For many, the new bridge also means shorter commutes.

“In October 2015, I felt like I suddenly moved to the suburbs,” said Campbell, whose commute to the Strip District increased by 20 minutes without the bridge.

The new bridge has wider sidewalks than the old one and also bike lanes, which the old bridge didn't have, Campbell said.

The bridge's official new name, the Beechwood Boulevard (Greenfield) Bridge II, gives a nod to the neighborhood.

“It's good to have that acknowledgement,” Campbell said.

The bridge opening also attracted non-Greenfield residents.

Lauren Goldman of Kennedy Township and her two sons looked down from the bridge onto the traffic on the Parkway East.

“We drive under it every day, so I'm glad the construction is done.”

Mark Knych, who also travels Parkway East every day, agreed. The bridge's completion means he's seen the last of the Parkway lane closures to repair the roadway from the construction.

“It's better when there's no work above you,” he said.

The “Bridge is Back” party is ongoing all day Saturday, with a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Bill Peduto at 7 p.m.

The bridge will reopen to vehicles by 8 a.m. Sunday.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, tclift@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tclift.

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