In late December, the Greenfield Bridge will be imploded—but before it falls to rubble, the deck of this 446-foot arch bridge will be the site of Bridgefest on October 17th, from 4 p.m. to midnight.
“This is the last full day the bridge is open to the public and we’re excited to send it off with a bang,” says Mitch Margaria, president of the Greenfield Community Association (GCA).
When Margaria met with city officials to brainstorm about ways Greenfield businesses could avoid the financial challenges Garfield businesses suffered during the long and agonizing Penn Ave. construction, Bridgefest was born.
“We want to get a lot of eyeballs in Greenfield. We want people to know we’re open for business even though the bridge is coming down,” says Margaria. The two main avenues to access Greenfield will be Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill and the Swinburne Bridge in South Oakland.
On deck to help draw attention to the Greenfield community will be Joe Grushecky and the House Rockers, the rock-country band North of Mason-Dixon (NOMaD) and The Milly. There will be a Kids’ Zone with bouncy houses, face painting, airbrush tattoos and tours of fire trucks and ambulances. Food trucks and vendors from the I Made It! Market will be there. Plus, all the Greenfield businesses are invited to have a booth, “mainly as a marketing tool, but also to make some money and get some exposure,” says Margaria.
“We also want to give people the chance to say goodbye to the bridge,” he says. When it was built in 1922, “there was great effort to make it architecturally significant and aesthetically pleasing.” This gives people a “chance to lament that we weren’t able to save it.”
Another core mission of Bridgefest is to establish a fund to support businesses during the construction. One fundraiser is a raffle drawing where the winner gets to push the plunger and implode the bridge, which will occur on Dec. 28, 29 or 30. When the bridge comes down, Rte. 376 will be closed for several days.
And when the new bridge opens as planned in May 2017, its original name—the Beechwood Bridge—will be reinstated.
For decades, the Greenfield bridge was in disrepair. In 2004, a $700,000 underbridge was built and netting was installed to catch debris that was falling onto Rte. 376.
It is one of more than 440 bridges in the city. In 2011, Transportation for America ranked metro areas with the most deficient bridges and Pittsburgh ranked number one, with 30.4% of our bridges labeled as deficient.