Allegheny County is set to break ground in 2012 on a flyover that will connect the Rankin Bridge to the Carrie Furnace Redevelopment site. In December, the site was awarded a $10 million grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation's TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Awards, one of three in the state.
The site is located on the north side of the Monongahela River and includes roughly 144 acres, plus 20 acres on the south bank of the river. Dennis Davin, Director of Economic Development for Allegheny County, says that they have been working to clean up the former industrial property for years, including brownfield remediation and infrastructure improvements, such as new water and sewer lines, but they lacked access to the site. Like many industrial areas, a rail line runs across the acreage, and the only way to get to the property is to cross active CSX railroad tracks.
"What we needed was funding on the federal level to build a flyover that would connect from the Rankin Bridge, over the rail tracks, onto the site. What that does is provides unimpeded access that makes the site much more marketable to developers and companies that want to locate on the site," said Davin.
The nonprofit Rivers of Steel has been working to rehabilitate the former steel furnace to turn it into a tourist attraction. Davin confirmed that Rivers' plans dovetail with the economic redevelopment vision for the area.
Along with the Carrie Furnace, he said that the site will include flex office space, light industry, and housing. During years of remediation, the County has made major investments in the communities that surround it (Swissvale, Rankin, and Braddock), including the recent announcement of a commercial development at the former UPMC Braddock hospital site.
Pointing at another major complex just down the river, Davin said that they do not want to compete with the Waterfront retail-entertainment area, nor do they want to repeat some of the mistakes made when the Waterfront in West Homestead was created, including a major disconnect between the shopping development and the adjacent communities.