The Fort Pitt Bridge

The Fort Pitt Bridge - 2006

The Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnels were instrumental in linking the city with the growing suburbs south and west of the city. The Parkway West section of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway now extended all the way from downtown Pittsburgh to the airport in Moon Township and on to Beaver Falls. This was another of the major transportation upgrades in the 1950s that made Pittsburgh a more easily accessible area for the suburban commuter. The Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel project's contributions to the development of the outer reaches of the Greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area rival those of the Liberty Bridge and Tunnels in the 1920s.

Fort Pitt Bridge under construction - 1958    Fort Pitt Bridge under construction - 1958

Designed by engineer George S. Richardson, the Fort Pitt Bridge is a steel, double decker bowstring arch bridge that spans the Monongahela River. Construction began in 1956 and the bridge opened for traffic on June 19, 1959. The new gateway to the City of Pittsburgh was one of the cornerstones of a modernization effort proposed by famed planner, Robert Moses, in 1939 known as the "Moses Plan".

Fort Pitt Bridge under construction - 1958

The span opened fifteen months before the accompanying Fort Pitt Tunnels were completed. Travelers heading west had to exit onto Carson Street and head to the West End Bypass in order to connect with the Parkway West. The bridge carries over 150,000 vehicles per day.

The Fort Pitt Bridge in 1960. The old Point
Bridge still stands next to the new span.    The Fort Pitt Bridge in the early 1970s

The Fort Pitt Bridge replaced the old Point Bridge, which was built in 1927. For a decade after the opening of the new bridge, the Point Bridge stood unused until it's demolishion in 1970. The Fort Pitt Bridge offramps connect to the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, the Boulevard of the Allies and Liberty Avenue. A fourth ramp is coupled with the Fort Pitt Bridge's sister span, the Fort Duquesne Bridge, that spans the Allegheny River. Together, the two golden arches, with Point State Park nestled in between, dramatically redrew the landscape near the confluence of the three rivers. The official color of the bridges is Aztec Gold.

View of the Fort Pitt Bridge and the City of
Pittsburgh when exiting the Fort Pitt Tunnels.

Famous as the "best way to enter an American city," motorists traveling from the West on Interstate 279 are given no visual clues regarding their nearness to downtown Pittsburgh as they enter the Fort Pitt Tunnels. When their vehicle emerges on the other side, the Golden Triangle suddenly bursts into view framed by the golden crossbracing of the bridge's arches.

A 1956 LIFE magazine display
touts Pittsburgh's new image.
A 1956 Time Life display touts Pittsburgh's new image after the completion of the ongoing Renaisance I.

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