In 2017 we learned that PennDOT was beginning to look at replacing the Interstate 376 bridge over Frick Park, Nine Mile Run, and Commercial Street. The bridge, part of a major transportation corridor in Pittsburgh, carries nearly 100,000 vehicles daily and has been in service for nearly 70 years. Since its construction, the arched bridge has been a backdrop of the restoration area and the stream. We anticipate that a construction project of this size will not only impact commuters but the stream and the park as well, with potential impacts on the environment and the aesthetics of the area.
In late 2019, PennDOT hosted the first of what will be several meetings on the outcomes of their preliminary planning work. This preliminary planning included a Historic Bridge Analysis, needs assessment, and rehabilitation feasibility study. The public meeting at the Frick Environmental Center was, unfortunately, poorly attended, given the impact on commuters and the potential impact on the park. Still, we encourage members, supporters, and park users to share their thoughts on the project with PennDOT via the survey link provided below.
In their public presentation, PennDOT proposed several options concerning design and construction implementation of the bridge project, with an emphasis on two constructions options: Staged or Slide-In. Staged construction would include alternating phases of construction and demolition which would result in no full closures of the highway. Alternatively, a slide-in construction method would see the majority of the new bridge built to the south of the existing bridge before a full closure would take place to demolish the existing bridge and slide the new bridge into place.
Details of the construction method can be seen in the slides provided by PennDOT at their autumn community meeting which can be found here.
The expected work footprint is unknown at this point in time, but based on renderings provided by PennDOT it appears that a staged construction method may require a smaller overall footprint potentially minimizing impacts to the stream and the park. We encourage people who are concerned about impacts and/or interested in the potential aesthetics of the new bridge to complete the PennDOT survey found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WY2F5NV.
We believe that this new bridge project could reduce bridge runoff from entering the stream, and we support the project in any capacity that imposes the least potential harm to the stream and the park. As such, we encourage survey respondents to include a comment with a preference for the project with smallest physical footprint.