The West End Bridge, a steel through arch, carries US Route 19 over the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The development and planning of the West End Bridge was part of an elaborate system of boulevards, bridges, and tunnels planned during the early 20th century as part of the “Pittsburgh Forward” public works program. 2 Throughout the 1920s, the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce pressed the county to fund the construction of numerous transportation projects, including Liberty Tunnel and Bridge, McKees Rocks Bridge, Allegheny River Boulevard, Ohio River Boulevard, and Saw Mill Run Boulevard, which helped spur the development and eventual suburbanization of neighborhoods in South Hills and West End.
As early as 1912, Henry Tranter, an industrialist who owned Tranter Manufacturing which produced factory and mine equipment, was urging the construction of a fixed crossing between the West End and North Side. 2 Since the 1880s, a ferry service connected the two regions. By the mid-1920s, a growing chorus of business leaders championed the project, believing that it would alleviate congestion downtown. Finally, in November 1928, the Allegheny County Commissioners proposed the construction of the West End-North Side Bridge at the cost of $3.54 million, and a preliminary bridge design was produced by the Allegheny County Department of Public Works was approved in December 1929.
On February 6, 1930, the county awarded a construction contract for the stone substructure to the Foundation Company of New York followed by a construction contract to the American Bridge Company in August. 1 2
The West End Bridge was erected between 1930 and 1932, with the Foundation Company handling substructure work and the American Bridge Company completing superstructure construction. 1 It was the second in the world to utilize tied-arch technology on a large scale and the first to utilize high-strength silicon steel. 2 It included a stiffening truss concentric with the arch itself, with the floor structure suspended from wire cable hangers which were subjected to pre-tensioning so that the floor structure would not sag under anticipated loads. 3
The new West End Bridge was dedicated and opened to traffic on December 2, 1932, connecting the West End to the Chateau neighborhood on the North Side after more than 25 years of planning and development at the cost of $3.64 million. 2 At the bridge opening ceremonies, the ribbon was cut by Mary Hershberger, the granddaughter of industrialist Henry Tranter, which was followed by a procession of 300 vehicles.
The West End Bridge underwent repairs in 1948 when an asphalt overlay was applied to the roadway deck and a raised median, along with other minor work, followed by the installation of a new concrete deck and a raised median barrier in 1955, a repainting of the superstructure in 1958, the addition of temporary stringer repairs at 63 locations in 1977, and repainting of the superstructure in 1980. 2
The West End Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and was placed on Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation’s Historic Landmarks list in 2001.
- State: Pennsylvania
- Route: US Route 19
- Type: Steel Arch
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 1,221 feet
- Main Span Length: 780 feet
- Deck Width: 43 feet
- Roadway Width: 41 feet
- Above Vertical Clearance: 15 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Kuncio, Gerald M. “Golden Age in the City of Bridges.” Western Pennsylvania History, Summer 1999.
- Cridlebaugh, Bruce S. “Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA – HAER PA-96: West End-North Side Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA.” pghbridges.com, 7 Oct. 1999.
- “West End Bridge.” Historic Pittsburgh.