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Greenfield Bridge replacement, effects on traffic to be explained

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 12:13 a.m.
The Greenfield Bridge, seen here Monday, January 14, 2013, spans the Parkway East and connects Greenfield to Schenley Park. It may close for repairs next year with construction taking at least a year to complete. Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The Greenfield Bridge spans the Parkway East and connects Greenfield to Schenley Park. It will close in 2015 for demolition. Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review

A $17 million project to replace the dilapidated Greenfield Bridge over the Parkway East poses a dilemma for Ryan Freeman.

As a parent who frequently drives beneath the crumbling structure with children in the car, he endorses the project. As manager of Rialto Pizza on Greenfield Avenue, he worries about losing the bridge for 1½ years starting in late 2015.

“We're dreading it here, to be honest,” said Freeman, 39.

Freeman said Rialto's uses the bridge for many food deliveries, including to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, where much of the shop's business resides. Deliveries of five to 10 minutes will balloon to 15 to 20 minutes with detours, he predicted.

Officials from the city of Pittsburgh, PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration will hold the first public meeting on the project from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at St. Rosalia Catholic Church at 411 Greenfield Ave.

Chuck McClain, the city's project manager, said officials will provide an overview of the project and answer questions. They'll display construction drawings.

Crews will demolish the bridge, along with black netting and a structure built beneath it to keep falling debris from pelting the Parkway East, in late 2015, officials said. About 7,800 vehicles a day use it, PennDOT's bridge database says.

The 466-foot-long bridge opened in 1921. PennDOT records show the bridge has a sufficiency rating of 47.4 out of a best possible 100, ranking it 88th worst among almost 400 locally owned bridges in Allegheny County.

McClain said officials likely will close the Parkway East in both directions from Christmas Eve of that year, a Thursday, until New Year's Day.

“That's when there's the least amount of traffic on the parkway,” McClain said of the scheduling decision, adding that several other temporary closures will occur.

Crews will dump a 10-foot layer of soil on the Parkway East before demolition to prevent falling debris from damaging the highway, which averages about 56,000 vehicles a day, according to PennDOT.

McClain said workers should complete the project by mid-2017. The design will appear similar to the old one, but fabricated steel will replace the familiar concrete arches, McClain said. Officials haven't decided what color to paint the steel.

“I don't know how this will all work out, but they definitely need to tear down that bridge, there's no doubt about it,” said John Hough, 56, who owns the land on which Hough's Taproom & Brewpub sits. He cited concerns about traffic, emergency vehicles reaching the neighborhood quickly and the impact the project will have on business.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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