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Highland Park Bridge

Highland Park Bridge

The Highland Park Bridge carries PA Route 1009 over the Allegheny River between the Highland Park area of Pittsburgh and Sharpsburg and Aspinwall, Pennsylvania.


The Highland Park Bridge Company was incorporated in June 1899 7 with the explicit purpose of building a bridge over the Allegheny River between the Butler Street extension at the north end of the Haights Run Bridge and Sharpsburg. 6 The proposed bridge was cantilever in style, 950-feet in length with three deck spans of 200 feet each, two of 100 feet, and a 150-foot trestle, with a 20-foot-wide deck with tracks for Consolidated Traction Company streetcars. In February 1900, a substructure construction contract for the abutments and piers was awarded to Charles Driver for $50,000 while a superstructure construction contract in the amount of $200,000 was awarded to the Schultz Bridge & Iron Company.

By September 1901, work on the new bridge had been slowed by a lack of carpenters, with the American Bridge Company, which had acquired Schultz Bridge & Iron, completing 1,530 feet of the new structure with 300 feet remaining. 8 The new Highland Park Bridge was finally finished in mid-1902. 9 Tolls were removed on June 18, 1915. 5


The Highland Park Bridge was in constant need of repairs because of substandard construction, heavy usage, and age. Additionally, constrained capacity during rush hour was leading to accidents. 13

The wood block roadway deck was replaced in 1919. 17 In September 1924, the bridge was closed to southbound traffic for 60 days while the roadway deck was extensively repaired. 15 As early as 1930, 14 a new bridge was being considered, and it was suggested that a concrete span would fare better than steel. 12 There was some debate on whether to approve the use of the Wichert deck truss on the proposed Highland Park Bridge instead of a more conventional deck truss. 4 The company that proposed it contended that the Wichert deck truss would be lighter and utilize less steel to obtain the same degree of strength. It was ultimately decided that a Pratt deck truss type would be utilized.

On February 27, 1936, Highland Park Bridge was closed to traffic because of a combination of high water and ice flows. 11 It was feared that the pounding of the ice would weaken the substructure of the bridge. In March, an inspection revealed that caissons on the bridge, supposedly filled with concrete, were found empty. 10 The crossing was closed for repairs until April. 16

Construction of a new Highland Park Bridge began on November 12, 1937. 3 River traffic was delayed for several hours as two 140-foot spans, each weighing 92,000 pounds, were hoisted from a barge and pinned into place 100 feet above the navigation channel of the Allegheny River on January 3, 1939. 2 Over one hour was required for lifting each span into place. The spans were assembled on the barge.

The new Highland Park Bridge was dedicated on June 22, 1939. 3 Speaking at the ceremonies were County Commissioner John S. Herron, Commissioner George Rankin Jr., County Works Director John F. Laboon, and County Commission Chairman John J. Kane who received the span and presented it to the public. Finished at the cost of $2,409,126, with the federal Works Progress Administration providing approximately $710,000 of the cost in a grant, the crossing promised to provide a gateway to areas north of Allegheny County via Freeport Road (PA Route 28) and PA Route 8 by way of Sharpsburg.

The new four-lane Pratt deck truss structure was the county’s second longest at 6,350 feet in length. 3 It was the first steel bridge in the county to be painted green, which was controversial at the time, 1and the world’s first to provide a concrete dividing strip as a safety precaution to keep alternate flows of traffic separated. 3 The barrier was nine inches high and 3 inches wide. In June, the crossing was voted “the second most beautiful bridge costing more than $2 million and built during 1940” by the American Institute of Steel Construction. 1

On October 9, 1963, a three-mile stretch of the PA Route 28 freeway opened between the 62nd Street Bridge in Etna to the Highland Park Bridge, allowing through traffic to bypass the Aspinwall business district. 18 Work on the $9 million freeway began in 1960 and included a revised northern terminus of the Highland Park crossing.

In 1986, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) moved forward with plans to substantially renovate Highland Park Bridge. 20 Originally, PennDOT intended to use federal funds on the reconstruction project, 19 but after specifications were sent out, the federal government announced large cuts in funds for projects that were not ready to begin which forced PennDOT to shift its money to jobs that were starting rather than lose federal monies. It was then decided to use state bridge reconstruction funds to complete the Highland Park Bridge project.

In the meantime, PennDOT decided that the original bids were too high, and it re-bid the job on May 21. 19 On June 19, Anjo Construction, with a bid of $15.7 million, nearly $750,000 below its first bid, was the apparent low bidder for the project. Revisions in the contract increased the project cost to $16.4 million. 20

Reconstruction of the Highland Park Bridge began in July. Work involved widening the roadway deck by six feet to 64 feet by eliminating one sidewalk, adding a concrete median barrier, adding new lighting, drainage and ramp improvements, and superstructure painting. 20 Construction wrapped up in December 1987 20 with painting taking place between May and July 1988. 21



  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Route: PA Route 1009
  • Type: Pratt Deck Truss
  • Status: Active - Automobile
  • Total Length: 6,350 feet
  • Main Span Length: 278 feet
  • Spans: 5 spans of 266 feet and 2 spans of 130 feet
  • Deck Width: 56 feet


  1. “Highland Park Bridge Wins Institute Award.” Pittsburgh Press, 22 Jun. 1940, p. 11.
  2. “Last Steel Span Placed In Highland Park Bridge.” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, 3 Jan. 1939, p. 8.
  3. “Commissioners Open Highland Park Span.” Pittsburgh Press, 21 Jun. 1939, p. 10.
  4. “County Reserves Bridge Decision.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 16 Jun. 1937, p. 9.
  5. “Highland Park Bridge Is Freed From Tolls.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 19 Jun. 1915, p. 9.
  6. “Bridge Over the Allegheny.” Pittsburgh Press, 23 Feb. 1900, p. 8.
  7. “New Corporations.” Pittsburgh Press, 12 Jun. 1899, p. 9.
  8. “Bridge Work Delayed by Lack of Carpenters.” Pittsburgh Press, 27 Sept. 1901, p. 14.
  9. “Strong Team for Sharpsburg.” Pittsburgh Daily Post, 8 May 1902, p. 9.
  10. “Bridge Blame Not County’s.” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, 5 Mar. 1936, p. 10.
  11. “Highland Park Bridge Closed By Officials.” Pittsburgh Press, 28 Feb. 1936, p. 1.
  12. “Change Urged in Bridge Plan.” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, 7 Jun. 1935, p. 4.
  13. “Highland Park Bridge Traffic Line Ordered.” Pittsburgh Press, 4 Jan. 1934.
  14. “Two Millions in Contracts to Give Work.” Pittsburgh Press, 1 Nov. 1930, p. 3.
  15. “Highland Park Bridge Closed to South-Bound Traffic for 60 Days.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 Sept. 1924, p. 1.
  16. “Highland Park Bridge to Reopen on Sunday.” News-Herald [Franklin], 9 Apr. 1936, p. 1.
  17. “Commissioners Let Bridge Repair Bids.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3 Jun. 1919, p. 13.
  18. Jensen, Edward. “Bypass Opening Ends Tieups in Sharpsburg.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 Oct. 1963, p. 25.
  19. Moushey, Bill and Carl Remensky. “State bridge project’s lack of minority goals angers black builders.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 20 Jun. 1986, pp. 1-4.
  20. Grata, Joe. “Plan jeopardized bridge, contractor says.” Pittsburgh Press, 23 Nov. 1987, pp. B1-B5.
  21. Grata, Joe. “Road Report.” Pittsburgh Press, 22 May 1988, p. A8.

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