New bridge restores identity for Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood
Before its demolition in the fall of 2015, the crumbling-yet-beloved Greenfield Bridge had become a national icon for failing infrastructure.
The 93-year-old bridge was featured on “60 Minutes” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
“They built a bridge under the bridge,” Oliver said during the March 2015 episode of the HBO comedy show. “That is a college sophomore approach to structural engineering.”
The Greenfield neighborhood's identity suffered.
“For so long, the public identity has been, ‘Oh — that's the neighborhood with the crumbling bridge with the diaper underneath it,' ” said Geoff Campbell, who's lived in Greenfield for 13 years.
This weekend, as the new bridge opens, a piece of the neighborhood's pride is restored.
“It's nice to have access to the (Schenley) park again,” said Nick Kennedy, who moved to the neighborhood a year before the bridge was demolished. “Greenfielders love to use the bridge to get back and forth to the park.”
Campbell's teenage daughter started running when the bridge was closed, leaving few places to run in the hilly Greenfield neighborhood.
“Now she'll get to experience the run I had,” said Campbell, president of the Greenfield Community Association.
For many, the new bridge also means shorter commutes.
“In October 2015, I felt like I suddenly moved to the suburbs,” said Campbell, whose commute to the Strip District increased by 20 minutes without the bridge.
The new bridge has wider sidewalks than the old one and also bike lanes, which the old bridge didn't have, Campbell said.
The bridge's official new name, the Beechwood Boulevard (Greenfield) Bridge II, gives a nod to the neighborhood.
“It's good to have that acknowledgement,” Campbell said.
The bridge opening also attracted non-Greenfield residents.
Lauren Goldman of Kennedy Township and her two sons looked down from the bridge onto the traffic on the Parkway East.
“We drive under it every day, so I'm glad the construction is done.”
Mark Knych, who also travels Parkway East every day, agreed. The bridge's completion means he's seen the last of the Parkway lane closures to repair the roadway from the construction.
“It's better when there's no work above you,” he said.
The “Bridge is Back” party is ongoing all day Saturday, with a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Bill Peduto at 7 p.m.
The bridge will reopen to vehicles by 8 a.m. Sunday.
Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, [email protected] or via Twitter @tclift.