Plans are moving forward for a new three-acre green space that will reconnect Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District with the city’s downtown business and cultural center.
The yet-to-be-named, tree-lined park will function as a “cap” over Interstate 579, providing a walkable link to a neighborhood that lost its direct access to downtown Pittsburgh over 50 years ago as a result of urban renewal and federal highway projects.
Awarded a $19 million federal grant through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, the $26.4 million pedestrian park will be constructed on top of a bridge-like structure.
The park will include story walls featuring the history of the Hill District, performance and green spaces, an outdoor classroom space, bike pathways, an amphitheater, and a bike-share station.
Green infrastructure will enable stormwater capture with rain gardens, native trees, shrubs, and grasses also helping to reduce noise from the interstate below. The park’s pedestrian and bike-friendly path system will be ADA-accessible.
HDR Engineering, with LaQuatra Bonci Associates, the landscape architect subcontractor, have created the park’s design with input from the Hill District community.
In the 1950s and 1960s, construction of the former Civic Arena, in concert with other development activities, led to the demolition of entire blocks of homes and businesses in the Lower Hill neighborhood, essentially separating the Hill from downtown Pittsburgh.
During that same time, Crosstown Boulevard was built, creating an additional barrier; this highway later became Interstate 579.
The project is expected to go out for bid by summer 2018, with construction underway later in 2018.
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