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Riverlife Plan To Connect Neighborhoods To Riverfronts Via Parks, Better Pedestrian Walkways

Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA
A view of Pittsburgh from the West End Bridge.

Transforming a tow pound lot into a public park, overlooks along the West End Bridge and a park in Pittsburgh’s Chateau neighborhood are some of the ways Riverlife hopes to revitalize more areas along the city’s riverfronts.

Riverlife, the waterfront revitalization organization, presented its recommendations along with project partner evolveEA online Thursday evening to about 200 viewers. The presentation included ideas submitted from over 3,600 city residents, interviews with property owners and developers, and guidance from a community steering committee.

The design recommends public park space and trail connections to nearby neighborhoods at the city tow pound below the 31st Street Bridge in the Strip District; a plan for expanded pedestrian access across the West End Bridge and down to the Monongahela River; as well as reimagining parts of the South Side trail along the neighborhood’s industrial sections.

“There are so many reasons to be excited about the future of the city’s riverfronts,” said Matthew Galluzzo, Riverlife president and CEO, in a release. “We're taking stock of the incredible transformation that has already occurred, what needs to be done to address the remaining gaps in the system, and how to improve the riverfront experience so that it's equitably enjoyed by everyone.”

Riverlife estimates that 85% of the 15-mile loop between the project’s three bridges —The 31st Street, West End and Hot Metal Bridges— have seen improvements over the last 20 years, notably Point State Park.

But the report notes several areas along the loop that have not seen the same level of riverfront development such as the South Side’s industrial corridor along the Monongahela River.

“Portions of the trail are not ADA accessible and the trail is cut off from the neighborhood with the exception of two legal railroad crossings,” the report reads. The railroad fences off much of the South Side trail from nearby neighborhoods.

Riverlife also presented designs for a park along the railroad in near the West End bridge. “Saw Mill Run park” would be accessed by ramps from the bridge down to the river.

Credit Riverlife
This design concept depicts a park along the railroad near the Monongahela River.

Each project comes with its own timeline and budget.

"There are many different projects represented in the Completing the Loop plan. For many of these projects, implementation of the plan has already begun with timelines driven by project partners, funding agencies, and developers,” said Galluzzo. Some projects could see completion in two to three years.

“Larger projects, like the West End Bridge development, will be completed in the 10 year timeframe. Riverlife expects to complete the Loop vision by 2030," he said.

Riverlife will rely on revenue from public, private and philanthropic organizations to fund the projects.

The organization will also launch a donation program in April. “We know there is a palpable interest for folks to be a part of this movement,” Galluzzo said.

The full design presentation can be found on Riverlife’s website. The organization is asking the public to weigh in on the designs via an online survey