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Bridge Project Receives Design Funding, Could Reconnect North Side Neighborhoods To Riverview Park

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The former site of the Davis Avenue Bridge in Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood still has signs warning drivers of its closure.

Brighton Heights residents may again have a direct connection to Riverview Park. A $200,000 state grant will go toward planning for a new pedestrian and bicycle-friendly span where the Davis Avenue Bridge once stood.

“There’s been, over a number of years, talk about restoring the bridge,” said Vince Pallus, president of the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation. “So [community groups and local elected leaders] started a series of questions.”

The 110-year-old bridge was demolished in 2009. For most of its life, it had been a gateway to the municipal park, which includes the Allegheny Observatory. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 2001 due structural concerns before finally being torn down eight years later. 

Its demolition made access to Riverview Park’s 259-acres challenging for North Side residents, forcing them to take an alternative route, usually along the winding Woods Run Road. 

“It’s a little more cumbersome without the bridge,” said the federation's president-elect Joe Glassbruner. “[A new bridge is] going to add a lot of accessibility.”

The Gaming Economic Development grant will go toward planning and budgeting for the estimated $2 million bridge. Pallus said residents had been mulling the idea of a new link to the park for a long time, but had been told that it would have to accommodate vehicles. Eventually officials determined that a bicycle/pedestrian span would be acceptable. It will also be cheaper, Pallus added.

“No bridge isn’t helping anybody,” Pallus said. “Riverview Park is a great resource that I don’t think people realize is there.”

Planning will begin in 2020 and construction could start as early as 2022. A series of community meetings will be scheduled throughout the design process. 

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.