Plans to build a park of I-579 to create a bridge between Hill District, downtown move forward

PTITSBURGH —A $19 million federal grant could help build a cap and park over I-579 in Pittsburgh, creating a bridge between the Hill District and Downtown that officials say has been missing since the 1950s

City, county, and congressional leaders said Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Transportation had approved the grant to the Pittsburgh Sports and Exhibition Authority for the project.

The plans call for a deck to be built over Crosstown Boulevard, near the site of the old Civic Arena. Many leaders believe the highway and the arena became barriers between the two sections of town.

“It’s a physical barrier, as well as a social and mental barrier,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Lavelle, who represents the area. “This gives us the ability to provide a very unique space, within the inner city, connecting Downtown and the Hill District with a very well-imagined urban park.”

Officials hope the park will include gardens, pavilions, artwork, and a theater. The total cost of the project is expected to be close to $27 million, so more money still must be secured. Construction likely would not be finished for at least two years.