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Allegheny County Councilman Charles Martoni, Swissvale Democrat who represents county council District 8, talks about the history of the Carrie Furnaces site during this morning's ribbon cutting. (Allegheny County photo via Twitter)
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Federal, county and state officials today joined Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in celebrating the completion of the $14.5 million Carrie Furnace Flyover Bridge with a formal ribbon cutting.
The bridge connects the Rankin Bridge to the 168-acre brownfield along the Monongahela River by passing over three railway tracks and includes significant railroad crossing safety improvements. The completion of the flyover bridge marks a significant milestone in the site work and reclamation of the former steel yard.
The ramp represents a "significant step" in the redevelopment of part of the former Carrie Furnaces site because it offers direct access to more than 100 acres of flat, riverfront property, Fitzgerald said.
Allegheny County purchased the Carrie Furnace site in 2005 for $5.75 million. In 2006, Carrie Furnaces Nos. 6 and 7 were designated as a National Historic Landmark.
In the last decade, the county has completed environmental assessments of the property, finished design and engineering work needed to bring the site above the 100 year flood plain, and extended sanitary and storm water systems.
The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, which has managed the project, plans to market the site as a flexible light industrial park that can accomodate offices or some manufacturing. The authority, which will solicit development proposals soon, predicts the site can accommodate 1,000 jobs over the first 10 years.
The ramp investments "were absolutely integral to the clean-up of this brownfield, and can be a boon to the surrounding communities as it begins to develop," Fitzgerald said.
The construction of the flyover bridge was made possible with a Federal Highway Administration Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant of $10 million. An additional combined $4.5 million was provided through Housing & Urban Development Community Development funds and the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
“Up until now, access to this site has been limited by the railroad tracks, and that has hurt our efforts to redevelop it,” U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Forest Hills Democrat, said today. "It was clear that providing better access to the site was essential in order to get it back into productive use.
"I contacted the Secretary of Transportation and expressed my strong support for the county’s application for funding to building this flyover ramp, and I was very pleased when the county was awarded a $10 million grant in 2011," Doyle said. "Now, with its completion, this site is ready for new economic activity.”
Activity on the Carrie Furnace site will continue as fill is imported for an additional 23 acres of pad ready development, extending the developable acreage up to the historic furnaces, a county spokeswoman said.
There also will be continued construction of the new Carrie Furnace Boulevard to the far west end of the site and continued importation of fill and grading on the western side of the furnaces.
Additionally, plans call for the remediation and eventual connection of the hot metal bridge to the site with bike and pedestrian trails continuing from the Waterfront.
(Editor's note: Written entirely from a press release supplied by Allegheny County.)
Originally published December 21, 2015.