A cement "cap" will cover the busy interchange and then be topped with soil to create the three-acre park, connecting Downtown to the Hill District. The endeaver will cost $26.4 million, most of which is coming from a US Department of Transporation grant.
The construction of Crosstown Boulevard in the 1960s separated the Downtown from the Hill District.
"What this is going to do is connect that back together,” said project manager Dan McDowell of the landscape architecture firm LaQuatra Bonci Associates, which designed the park. “But it’s also going to be a green space in downtown Pittsburgh, you know, [there's] not a lot that are of this size.”
Plans for the space include native plants and six rain gardens, designed to mitigate flooding and sewer overflows.
“There’ll be art elements associated with the rain gardens,” said McDowell. “There’s some stained concrete … historical art pieces around this performance space.”
During the planning commission, concerns were raised about the future of a mosaic mural by late Pittsburgh artist Virgil Cantini; done in an abstract style, the 28 panels depict city patterns. The 1964 mural is located in a pedestrian tunnel under Bigelow Buleavard, which must be filled in to support the weight of the park.
"One of the panels have been removed successful...in one piece. It was crated and is now in storage," said Ray Gastil, plannng director for the city of Pittsburgh. "We have every intent to proceed...with the other 27 panels."
A new location for the mural has not been found, but Gastil said it will include documentation of its original site.
Construction on the park is slated to start this spring and expected to be completed in the summer of 2021.