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Paved Bridge Street key to Sharpsburg, Etna riverfront revitalization

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Intersection of Bridge Street in Etna where ribbon cutting took place for improvements to the road.

Officials hope the newly paved Bridge Street in Sharpsburg and Etna is the first step to revitalizing the riverfront area between the two communities.

Allegheny County, state and local officials celebrated the improved Bridge Street with a ceremony on Thursday. Iris Whitworth, executive director of the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone, said the road long has been a problem for businesses in the area. ARTEZ is working with the two communities on a revitalization effort.

The road had become almost impassable for trucks that access nearby businesses before it was repaved. The project cost about $170,000. A Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund Grant went toward construction, and a Community Development Block Grant was used for engineering work.

“We've really come a long way,” Whitworth said.

Though officials are celebrating the improved Bridge Street, Whitworth said they also are looking toward the future.

“The riverfront corridor as it currently stands has so much potential,” Whitworth said.

A $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth Finance Authority will be used for the Etna Riverfront Park, a 1.5-acre riverfront property that will connect to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

Whitworth said the next step is to plan the park. Organizers also are looking at adding park space under the 62nd Street Bridge, plans that could include a skate park.

“We really want to create connections between the residents and the riverfront,” Whitworth said.

Having Bridge Street improved and open is important to those plans, she said.

“It's a good faith effort to the businesses themselves but it's also a stepping stone to adding pedestrian infrastructure along the roadway,” Whitworth said.

Bill Voegele, president of ExTech Technologies, a manufacturing company along Bridge Street, said the project has been a long time coming for his own business and others.

“The world doesn't know how wonderful this area is,” Voegele said.

Sharpsburg Mayor Richard Panza praised how the two communities worked together on the project.

“What an improvement,” Panza said.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513, or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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