Beechwood Boulevard (Greenfield) Bridge Replacement

Beechwood Boulevard (Greenfield) Bridge

Beechwood Boulevard (Greenfield) Bridge Replacement

Pittsburgh’s Beechwood Boulevard (Greenfield) Bridge had seen better days and was ready for a makeover. Located at the entrance of one of the city’s most historic parks, the once-grandiose, now-aging bridge was featured on a “60 Minutes” television segment as emblematic of America’s crumbling infrastructure. Meanwhile, concerned city officials were resolutely determined to preserve the iconic nature of this bridge, whether it involved rehabilitation or replacement.

A plan of action had to be devised carefully to ensure a stable future for the bridge, which still retained its original concrete arch constructed back in 1922. By the early 2000s, the continuously “patched-up” bridge had significantly deteriorated, with evidence of spalling that exposed large amounts of corroding steel reinforcement. Past renovations had removed most of Greenfield Bridge’s classic architectural elements. The once-stately concrete arch now was wrapped with netting to catch flaking and fragmenting concrete, and a “bridge-under-the-bridge” was in place to further protect motorists from the deteriorating structure above.  

Over the years, we’ve sought to build a solid reputation with Pittsburgh officials while working on various city projects, including the previous rehabilitation of the South Millvale Avenue Bridge. We understood the iconic nature of Greenfield Bridge and its importance to the city landscape. In short, our HDR team was eager to help propel the bridge into the 21st Century. The $17.5 million project offered us a unique opportunity to implement state-of-the-art design practices and reestablish a landmark structure reincorporating decorative elements of the bridge’s traditional grandeur. Its setting at the entrance of Schenley Park encouraged an innovative, context-sensitive design that embraced the bridge's role as not just a transportation facility, but as a longstanding and beloved part of the community.

The “Rebirth” Process

Starting in 2009, the city selected us to provide preliminary and final design and construction services extending throughout the bridge’s “rebirth” process. We began with an in-depth inspection of the existing concrete arch bridge and then proceeded to do an alternatives analysis study to investigate potential rehabilitation of the existing bridge versus replacement. From there we proceeded with the preliminary and final design of a replacement steel arch bridge.

Early on, we knew that the key to the project’s success would be to successfully demolish the existing concrete arch over one of Pittsburgh’s busiest stretches of Interstate-376 highway. During the design phase we brought together the design team with local contractors to discuss issues and brainstorm for unique solutions related to the proposed demolitions. A Christmas-week closure was targeted as the most viable time to close the interstate.

As a result, the bridge was demolished with explosives and rubble was cleared in less than five days during the Christmas holiday season. The interstate was opened in time for the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Ultimately, the city wanted the new bridge to maintain its special role as both a majestic entrance to Schenley Park and as Pittsburgh’s “Gateway to the East” for users of the underlying interstate. Therefore, aesthetics played an important role in the design. The new bridge façade reinstated the earlier bridge’s remaining stone architectural elements, including stone urns, decorative pillars and a stone obelisk. Form-liners and decorative fencing/lighting were added to reestablish the bridge as a grand promenade leading into the city’s second-largest park. A wider-than-normal sidewalk and designated bike paths improved upon the existing bridge cross section, making the new bridge more welcoming to state-of-the-art, multimodal transportation. 

Reopened in fall 2017, today’s Greenfield Bridge is the winner of various awards for excellence in bridge design and construction. Learn more about this impressive project in our previously published “Insights” article, “Bridge Design Combining State-of-the-Art with Historic Grandeur.”

Beechwood Boulevard (Greenfield) Bridge

Awards

Project of the Year (2018)
ASHE Outstanding Highway Awards
American Society of Highway Engineers - Pittsburgh Section
Best Project (2018)
Highways/Bridges
Engineering News-Record Mid-Atlantic
Outstanding New Major Bridge (2018)
ABCD Awards
Association for Bridge Construction & Design – Pittsburgh Chapter
Transportation Project of the Year (2018)
Transportation, Building and Construction Awards
March of Dimes Pittsburgh
Civil Engineering Award of Merit (2018)
Civil Engineering Achievement Awards
American Society of Civil Engineers – Pittsburgh Section
Prize Bridge Award – Long Span (2018)
Prize Bridge Awards
National Steel Bridge Alliance
ESWP Project of the Year (2018)
International Bridge Conference Awards
Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania
Outstanding Engineering Achievement of the Year Award (2018)
Engineers’ Week Chapter Awards
Pittsburgh Society of Professional Engineers – Pittsburgh Chapter