Pittsburgh, The City Of Bridges, And The Challenge Of Keeping Them Up

Jul 4, 2016
Originally published on July 4, 2016 12:25 pm

There are more than 440 bridges in the city of Pittsburgh, and maintaining each one can prove challenging, not to mention costly. Bridges are constantly in need of repair due to age and weather damage, including the Liberty Bridge, which is undergoing a three-year reconstruction estimated to cost about $80 million.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson reports from Pittsburgh on the history of the city’s bridges and checks in on the Liberty Bridge project.

Interview Highlights

Bob Regan, historian and author of Bridges of Pittsburgh

“Oh Lord, I think bridges mean everything [to the identity of the city]. I mean, you just look around to the city or you go to some grocery stores, there are models of bridges. A lot of the businesses have the bridges in their logo. And so I think it’s everything. I think Pittsburgh is really identified with them.”

Pat Hassett, assistant director of the Bureau of Transportation and Engineering Department of Public Works, City of Pittsburgh

“There are some bridges that have passed their useful life and they don’t necessarily serve the demand they used to serve in the past when the rivers were full of the steel mills. But we’re reluctant to take them out because the bridges are more than just connections in communities, they’re icons. Neighborhoods and people come to relate to these bridges so we are looking at ways of maintaining these bridges. One option we have is to reduce them to pedestrian bridges as opposed to vehicle bridges. We’re in the process of making that assessment on some of our bridges.”

Jason Zang, structure control engineer for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

“Recent years… brought to light the conditions of many bridges. Pennsylvania has made it a priority to make bridge maintenance and repairing the infrastructure that we have. Instead of building new infrastructure, we really need to maintain what we have and that’s really what we’ve been concentrating on the past few years.”

Guests

Bob Regan, historian and author of “Bridges of Pittsburgh.

Pat Hassett, assistant director of the Bureau of Transportation and Engineering Department of Public Works, City of Pittsburgh.

Jason Zang, structure control engineer for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

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