The trail bridge over Bates Street, which opened in 2011, is the second newest bridge in Pittsburgh. The newest is the pedestrian bridge in East Liberty (see Taking the Long Way Round post). The East Liberty bridge was a completely new bridge, whereas there was a trail bridge over Bates Street before. This bridge carries the Eliza Furnace Trail. This trail is part of the larger Three Rivers Heritage Trail. I believe that this is the only bridge over a road along the Three Rivers Trail system. There is a converted railroad bridge that carries the trial over part of the Allegheny River (see July 15 post). The Hot Metal (Aug 9 post), Smithfield Street and Fort Duquesne (June 19 post) bridges are also considered part of the trail system according to the trail map.
As I mentioned in the Birmingham Bridge post, the part of the Three Rivers Trail system that travels on the northern side of the Monongahela is not a very pleasant stretch. This area around the Bates Street Bridge is one of the worst sections. The trail is caught between a freeway and the high traffic, through way of Second Avenue. There is no vegetation or anything else to act as barriers to the noise of the traffic on these two roads and to the sun on a hot day.
Further away from town (in the direction the picture above looks), the trail improves some as it comes to an elevation between that of the freeway and Second Avenue and there is more space between the trail and the roads. I’ve traveled on this trail toward town only once or twice, so I don’t remember specifics about it. I do remember that it does continue to lean toward being unpleasant. The times I traveled on it, I was biking. From that experience I know I would never choose to walk it. On a bike, you go fast enough to ignore much of the harshness of the trail, but walking you would be forced to take it all in.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this part of the trail system is that it doesn’t approach anywhere near the river. This is a significant flaw for a trail considered part of a river trail system. At the Bates Street Bridge, the trail is separated from the Monongahela River by Second Avenue and the office/technology park I reference in the Birmingham Bridge post.
One of my original fascinations with my walking bridge project was the different views of the city captured from the various bridges. The Bates Street Bridge adds to the views of downtown I’ve collected so far: