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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Allegheny County Looking To Develop 150 Acres Surrounding Carrie Furnace Site

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
A view of the Carrie Furnace Flyover Bridge. The overpass connecting Carrie Furnace to the Rankin Bridge was opened Monday.

The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County is looking for development options for more than 150 acres of brownfield space surrounding a former steel yard in Rankin.

County officials opened the $14.5 million overpass connecting the site surrounding Carrie Furnace to the existing Rankin Bridge on Monday. The authority said the site could absorb 1,000 jobs in the first 10 years now that the overpass is complete.

The Carrie Furnace Flyover Bridge (highlighted in yellow in the map below) opened Monday. The project connects the Rankin Bridge to 168 acres of brownfield along the Monongahela River.

Credit 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
The Carrie Furnace Flyover Bridge (highlighted yellow above) opened Monday. The $14.5 million project connects the Rankin Bridge to 168 acres of brownfield along the Monongahela River.

At its peak, the former blast furnace turned out more than 1,000 tons of iron a day as part of Homestead Steel Works. Allegheny County purchased the site in 2005, 26 years after it ceased operation.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle said the bridge is part of a bigger move to stimulate economic recovery in struggling Monongahela River communities.

“We’re going to keep fighting to make sure we’re going to get a good development on this sight, that we get good partners that are going to be good for the community, that provide jobs and provide a tax base for communities like Rankin and Swissvale so that we can see these communities prosper, too,” Doyle said.

Rankin Borough Council President William Price said he's looking for the same ripple effect. The borough is a designated financially distressed municipality under Act 47, meaning the state oversees how the city budgets its money.

Price said officials have come and gone trying to redevelop the area for more than 10 years. He credited recent progress to a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, known as TIGER, awarded to the county in 2011.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the grant money had to be used to link the site to the rest of the community. 

“It wouldn’t get developed if we can’t connect it, if people can’t get here if the businesses can’t get here, if the developers can’t market it,” he said.