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Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city, adds Eastside Pedestrian Bridge to the list

Pittsburgh can claim more bridges than any other city in the world, and will now add one more elevated span to the list.  The Eastside Pedestrian Bridge, a project of the URA, opened last week, connecting the Ellsworth shopping district with the Eastside development in East Liberty.

East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI) initiated the effort to build this structure, which is equal parts functional amenity and public art.

Skip Schwab, ELDI director of operations, says that while undertaking a community outreach and planning process, residents expressed a desire to have better connections between East Liberty and Shadyside.

The community wanted the new bridge design to be more open, and to have a safer feeling than the existing structures which cross the busway, Schwab says.

And in order to finance the planning and engineering of the bridge, ELDI raised funds from the private sector, including numerous foundations and individuals, to supplement the project’s budget.

Artist Shelia Klein designed the artistic elements of the bridge.  Thousands of glass sequins adorn the structure, and were made at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in the nearby Friendship.  Railings for the bridge were salvaged from the 31st Street Bridge, and restored by Keystone Metals in Larimer. 

Schwab says the bridge is part of a broader effort to repair pedestrian infrastructure lost during urban renewal of the 1960s.

“Everything that we're trying to do is to not only just rebuild the connections, but to do it in a way that is much more pedestrian friendly and accessible,” Schwab says.

The total project cost was $1.5 million, and included street lighting and sidewalk improvements in Shadyside, and was designed by SAI Consulting Engineers.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Skip Schwab, ELDI
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