Greenfield Bridge

The Greenfield Bridge, formerly known as the Beechwood Boulevard Bridge, was originally built in 1922, demolished in 2015, rebuilt in 2017, and repaired in 2020. It was a classic case of waiting until the bridge was falling down before replacing it. To increase the lifespan of the original bridge, a second bridge was built underneath, and a net installed as early as the late 1980s to protect cars on the freeway below from the falling debris.

Yet it remained in that deteriorating condition for decades before being imploded in a grand ceremony between Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2015. The freeway was covered with tons of dirt, the bridge dropped onto this pile, and the debris cleared away before the highway was needed again for regular commuting. Many people (myself and my family included) stationed themselves on either hillside to watch. We picked a distant vantage point in Schenley Park where we had a great view of the dust cloud that resulted from the demolition.

Another grand ribbon cutting ceremony took place when the new bridge reopened in 2017. A part of the reason for celebration was that, similar to the rebuilding of Heth’s Run Bridge, the historical decorative elements of the bridge were restored or reinstated. The new fencing on the bridge also aimed for a more decorative feel compared to the previous cage-like fencing.

After all the ceremonies and splash around the new bridge, I was surprised to receive a press release three years later announcing that the bridge would be closed for a month to undergo repaving and other repairs. On the one hand, it was nice to see that a bridge was undergoing maintenance instead of being left to fall to pieces before being replaced, but three years seemed early to need this kind of maintenance. According to the Post-Gazette, the repairs were for issues identified in the final inspection before the 2017 reopening. These issues threatened to significantly shorten the projected 50-year life span if unaddressed. Now that those issues have been resolved, I assume it will be at least 50 years before the next press release about repair or renovation for this bridge.