The much-anticipated East Side Pedestrian Bridge is now officially open to foot traffic, after its original completion date of December 27, 2011 was delayed because of weather and safety issues. The walkway links the intersection of Ellsworth Avenue at Spahr Street with the southwest corner of the Eastside development parking deck in East Liberty.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority spearheaded the project. Executive Director Rob Stephany said some time ago there was a bridge linking the two areas, "but with East Liberty's market decline, the bridge was never reconstructed. Now that both neighborhoods are humming along and there are a lot of people on foot and on bike, we finally have a connection that can zipper those two things together."
The bridge was designed by Pittsburgh native artist Sheila Klein, who now lives in Washington State. It features thousands of glass sequins made at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in Friendship and railings that were salvaged from the 31st Street Bridge.
The hope is that increasing foot traffic in the area will be a boon to the economies of both East Liberty and Shadyside.
"East Liberty is waking up as kind of a commodities and retail center for the eastern part of the city and starting to attract from a rather large geography," said Stephany. "Those two systems better connecting, I think, is going to be a really special thing for the city at large."
The total project cost was $1.5 million, which included street lighting and sidewalk improvements. An asphalt seal will be applied when there's a break in the weather, and it will then be painted by Klein.