Glenwood Bridge

While many characteristics are shared between the Pittsburgh bridges, each has its own unique combination.  The Glenwood Bridge, built in 1966 across the Monongahela, was one of the nicer ones to walk across, but I had a hard time finding a reason for anyone to walk it.

The Glenwood Bridge perhaps has the most in common with the Highland Park Bridge.  Both bridges cross over industrial land uses.  On the north shore of the Monongahela, the Glenwood Bridge crosses over a railroad yard and on the south shore, the bridge crosses over a scrap yard.  The Highland Park Bridge also crosses a scrap yard, but while that one seems to focus on braking up the pieces of scrap metal, the one at the Glenwood Bridge seems to sort it and condense it into cubes.

While the Glenwood Bridge has some similarities with the Highland Park Bridge, there are also some significant differences.  Cars travel very fast across this bridge, but they are much more spread out than on the Highland Park Bridge.  Also, the sidewalk is very broad and clear of debris (a stark contrast to the Highland Park Bridge where the sidewalk looks similar but is narrow and collects debris).  This bridge has the mesh fence that I usually rant against as making me feel caged in, but in this case the fence does not curve inward at the top as many of the others do like the Millvale, Negley and Aiken Avenue bridges.  As a result of the straight fence and the width of the sidewalk, I did not feel caged in on this bridge.

Unfortunately the southern end of the bridge does not live up to the standard set by the rest of it.  Like the Birmingham Bridge, the sidewalk leaves the bridge before its end and goes down a stairway to ground level.  The stairs are not nearly as well-maintained as the rest of the sidewalk.  They are overgrown, broken and covered with litter.  The sidewalk at the bottom only allows one choice of direction for the pedestrian: to go left underneath the bridge.  Following this sidewalk (which is covered in mud and litter in places), the pedestrian crosses another short bridge (carrying a roadway over a roadway) and comes to another stairway in much worse condition than the one above.

This area is a labyrinth of high speed roadways.  The picture above is the second bridge taken from the top of the second stairway.  These stairs lead to a slower speed road that followed inland leads to some residences and followed toward the river leads to Sandcastle or the scrap yard the Glenwood Bridge crosses.

Given the unpleasantness of the southern end of the bridge for pedestrians and the fact that the main use of that area is an interchange for cars between various high speed roads, I could see very little incentive or reason for pedestrians to actually use the nice, broad, clear sidewalk of the Glenwood Bridge.  The only reason I could think of was perhaps if residents of the Hazelwood neighborhood wanted to walk to Sandcastle (the waterpark on the other side of the river).

This lack of purpose for the sidewalks on the Glenwood Bridge is intriguing.  The bridge has two wide sidewalks on either side, whereas the Highland Park and Birmingham bridges have sidewalks only on one side.  It doesn’t seem likely that whoever built the bridge would have wasted money on two such broad sidewalks if they didn’t expect them to be used.  Perhaps when the bridge was built in the 1960s, people still used walking as a common mode of transportation to work.  At that time period, I believe that there was much more industrial work to be found along this part of the river.  I am not as familiar with this area of the Monongahela as I am with parts farther upstream and downstream, but given that in both directions were large steel mills, this part of the river probably also had some mills or other industry.  Therefore the sidewalks might originally have been in high demand as a commuter path.

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