An Allegheny County Port Authority bus involved in the collapse of the Frick Park Bridge on Friday, January, 28, 2022. (Pittsburgh City Paper photo).
By Jordana Rosenfeld
While prominent Pittsburgh officials have commented on PennDOT’s new renderings of the Fern Hollow Bridge, residents who live near the bridge have taken to social media to voice their suggestions.
Renderings for the new bridge, which is being replaced after the original collapsed on Jan. 28, were released on March 8, and have garnered critiques from multiple groups and officials, including feedback from the city’s Art Commission on the aesthetics of the design, described by some as resembling a “highway overpass,” according to WESA-FM.
On March 10, City Controller Michael Lamb asked PennDOT, which is leading the project, to “pause” the design to get more input into the space needed for non-motorized users, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The push to expedite the project, which is expected to begin in April, has, thus far, meant a lack of input from the general public on the project’s design and development.
This has not, however, stopped people who live near the site of the collapsed bridge from offering their opinions to the public.
Wilkinsburg resident Gabrielle Marsden drew her own suggested layout for the bridge and posted it in several neighborhood Facebook groups to solicit feedback.
“I am very, very familiar with this area, and I believe that many might not be,” Marsden tells Pittsburgh City Paper via Facebook message. “As far as I am concerned, that bridge gets a lot of non-motorized traffic, and I want to make more people understand everything that is at stake.” Marsden said she feels strongly that bicycle and pedestrian traffic need their own dedicated lanes and would like designers to consider adding crosswalks and speed bumps where appropriate and possible.
Although PennDOT has said they plan to keep the new bridge the same length and width as the previous bridge, Marsden feels everyone’s needs could be accommodated if the new bridge were four feet wider than the PennDOT cross section, at 68 feet.
There are also more formal efforts underway to open a dialogue between communities near Fern Hollow and the powers that be.
“We’re planning just an informational meeting with the Regent Square Civic Association and representatives from the city, both the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure as well as our councilman’s office and Public Safety,” Jim Lenkner of the Greater Park Place Neighborhood Association told Pittsburgh City Paper.
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