About 20,000 daily motorists a day will have to find a different way to go from Oakland to Schenley Park after Pittsburgh officials closed the Charles Anderson Bridge Wednesday for emergency repairs.
In a news release, the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure said it decided to close the bridge based on “the results of an updated structural analysis,” but it didn’t identify the specific problems. It said the bridge will be closed to cars and trucks for at least four months for emergency repairs that could cost $1 million to $2 million.
Pedestrians and bicyclists can continue to use the bridge, and the Junction Hollow Trail underneath it, for now.
The Boulevard of the Allies bridge, opened in 1938, has been rated in poor condition since 2012. Its substructure, superstructure and deck are considered poor with advanced deterioration of the concrete deck and pier caps and advanced section loss throughout the structure, including at connection and weight-bearing areas, according to the city website.
Mayor Ed Gainey said the decision to close the bridge is part of the promise he made to protect motorists after the January 2022 collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge between Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze. That bridge had been rated in poor condition for more than 12 years when it fell into Frick Park underneath it, injuring 10 people.
“I made a pledge to the residents of Pittsburgh that I will not hesitate to close a bridge for the safety of our citizens,” the mayor said in the news release.
“Inspection results have come back that tell us this bridge needs repair work to be safe for traffic. It’s because of the safety systems that we have put in place over the last year that we can act immediately, and proactively, to close this bridge — preventing another Fern Hollow.”
The city is recommending the following detours:
— For eastbound/outbound vehicles, take Boulevard of the Allies, right onto Bates Street, left onto Second Avenue, left onto Greenfield Avenue, left onto Ronald Street, right onto Alger Street, left onto Greenfield Bridge, to Greenfield Road, to Panther Hollow Road.
— For westbound/outbound vehicles, take Panther Hollow Road, to Greenfield Road, to Greenfield Bridge, right onto Alger Street, left onto Winterburn Street, right onto Greenfield Avenue, right onto Second Avenue, right onto Bates Street.
The closure also will cause disruptions for three Pittsburgh Regional Transit bus routes — 58 Greenfield, 65 Squirrel Hill and 93 Lawrenceville-Hazelwood — that use the bridge. Changes that eliminate some stops and establish new ones for each route can be found on the PRT website.
The emergency work comes as the city is in the process of designing a $48 million full rehabilitation of the bridge that is scheduled to begin in 2025. The city said it will do what it can to speed up that process, which calls for major changes in the structure.
For example, the current bridge has two 10-foot lanes in each direction and 5-foot sidewalks on each side that are considered to be too narrow and require bicyclists either to use the sidewalk or the narrow vehicle lanes. Plans call for the revamped bridge to have one inbound lane that is 10.5 feet wide; two outbound lanes, one 10.5 feet and the other 11 feet wide; a 9.5-foot bicycle lane; and 6-foot-wide sidewalks on each side.
Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at email@example.com.