It’s been so long since the Davis Avenue Bridge carried vehicular traffic between Pittsburgh’s Brighton Heights neighborhood and Riverview Park that residents are more than satisfied that its replacement will be limited to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Officials broke ground Thursday for the $5.4 million project that will cross above Woods Run Road. The former bridge, which dated to the late 1890s, was closed to traffic in 2001 and demolished in 2010, creating a long steep detour route for pedestrians and bicyclists heading to the park for recreation.

Now, by the end of the year, Gregori Construction Inc. is expected to finish installing the new structure.

“There’s been huge support for a non-vehicle bridge,” said city Councilman Bobby Wilson, who represents the area. “The community really wants to be connected to the park.”

“Connection” seemed to be the word of the day as at least three speakers keyed in on that aspect of the project.

“It’s a connection to nature, but it’s a connection to the neighborhood, too,” said state Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Brighton Heights.

Kinkead said she heard repeatedly in recent years that residents wanted a new bridge, but they didn’t want the return of vehicular traffic.

“Fundamentally, we don’t want to deal with traffic speeding into and out of the park into the neighborhood,” she said. “It was an issue when it was a vehicular bridge. Now, we’re prioritizing the pedestrian use of a much-needed bridge.”

The city has been building the funding pot for the new bridge for several years, beginning with a $4 million commitment from former Mayor Bill Peduto in 2021. Additional city, state and federal funding pushed the project over the top.

Mark Masterson, chairman of Friends of Riverview Park, said the decision to build a pedestrian bridge made it easier to find funding for the project. That meant it didn’t have to go through the evaluation process with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, which recommends projects for federal funding and never gave Davis a top rating because of the limited number of motorists who used it.

The new bridge will be less expensive because it will be narrower and won’t have to meet the same weight requirements as a vehicular bridge. It will be made of precast concrete put together off-site and dropped onto two piers, the current one on the park side and a new one of the Brighton Heights end.

The park advisory group will find a use on the new bridge for ornamental metal railings that still stand on the park end of the project, Masterson said. Pittsburgh artist Lori Hapner, who uses a concept called “drawing with light,” also will create art for the new bridge.

Mayor Ed Gainey said he is happy the project is moving forward.

“Sometimes things happen and it takes a long time,” he said.

Masterson said his group is working with the city on improvements to the park’s two other entrances. At Kilbuck Valley, the group is working with the city to relocate a garbage transfer station away from the park entrance to other vacant land in the city, and at Maridale, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority is developing stormwater improvements that include rain gardens and tree plantings to reduce runoff that causes flooding.

This is the view from Riverview Park across the valley that includes Woods Run Road to Davis Avenue in Brighton Heights, where a new pedestrian bridge will reconnect the neighborhood and the park by the end of the year. Pittsburgh officials broke ground on the project Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Ed Blazina/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at