Our wait is finally over!
Eight years after the reopening of the automobile side of the historic Hot Metal Bridge, the bicycle and pedestrian side opened today to much fanfare. Originally used to transport molten steel in the J & L steel mill, the recycled bridge is for the exclusive use of non-motorized transport, a first of it’s kind in Pittsburgh. Thanks to the tireless work of such varied organizations as Friends of the Riverfront, Allegheny Trail Alliance, the City of Pittsburgh, PennDOT, Allegheny County, and others, this vital link from the Eliza Furnace Trail to the South Side Trail is a reality.
People were in a joyous mood as we walked, biked, and skated across the bridge for the first time. We had reason to be merry, as the automobile side of the bridge is inaccessible to pedestrians, and dangerous to ride due to the lack of a shoulder and the presence of fast moving traffic. It also dumped us out on an awkward and dangerous intersection on Second Avenue which forced us to scramble in traffic to gain access to the Eliza Furnace Trail on the other side. One participant said it was her “first time crossing a bridge on a bicycle.”
At the reception inside REI, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and County Chief Executive Dan Onoroto were on hand to speak to the importance of this connection, as well as the importance of pursuing similar projects in the future. At what the mayor said was “the largest press conference” he’s ever spoken at, he talked about how excited he was to work with the cycling community to help transform Pittsburgh into a bike friendly city. Dan Onoroto spoke about the economic development opportunities that projects like these can bring to a city.
The bridge has been beautifully refinished with period lighting and an addition over Second Avenue that matches the original. This symbolic link between two reclaimed brownfield sites will help usher in a new era for the region and it’s transportation infrastructure.