Friday, July 27, 2012

Let there be a bridge

No matter what you think of the MFX this is cool in itself.  h/t to The Atlantic Cities for catching this time-lapse video posted online by Brenda Smeltzer capturing the erection of the  Monongahela River Bridge, a section of the nearly vestigial Mon Fayette Expressway.   See below.

I will say that the current picture of the bridge in waiting has an almost impressionistic quality to it.

Even as someone who tries to follow such things I find that the true status of the greater Mon Fayette Expressway is hard to discern.  I believe it has been years since the local project office closed. Still the explanation of the office's closing..i.e. that it was merely: "pause in project advancement due to funding limitations" remains a paragon of bureaucratic euphemism.  The project's web site clearly identifies itself not as for the full "Mon Fayette Expressway" but merely for the Brownsville to Uniontown segment

One thing is for sure.. the MFX has a nearly perpetual history to it all.  Some good comments on that history in this old post here .  I am reminded of how long that history is every time I go over the Birmingham Bridge.  If you ever wonder why that bridge is so seemingly over-engineered (photo in that link via Evergrey on the Skyscraper forum), it clearly was once intended to be a cog in the greater highway vision. So it was not intended to be merely a connection between the Southside and Oakland/Uptown, but the major ingress to the city for a highway that never came to be.  Even if it is being underused in that sense, they ought to oil the joints as they are supposed to, but seem to overlook.  To be fair, that problem was a bit more complicated than that, but still lack of maintenance was a contributing factor.

I digress...  What I would love to see is a compilation of other Pittsburgh-themed time-lapse videos that are out there.  We at least need a top 10 don't you think?  Nominations?

Anyway...  the new bridge:


Blogger joe said...

Just a stone's throw from Brownsville's historic Dunlap's Creek Bridge (1836), the first iron bridge.

"The present Dunlap's Creek Bridge is the fourth known structure at this site. The use of an innovative and unusual technological advance, cast iron for a bridge structure, may be predicated by the frequency of repair and replacement necessary at this location. The first two bridges collapsed under extreme weather conditions, in 1808 and 1820. The third, another timber frame structure, was deteriorated enough by 1832 that plans were initiated for a replacement."

Also, the Brownsville Bridge (1914) and the Lane Bane Bridge (1960), which Wikipedia says was part of the original MFX plan.

Friday, July 27, 2012 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live near Bridgeville, occasionally, when I drive back & forth to Washington, DC, I take the MFX down to I-68 (a break from the mainline turnpike, which is usually congested).

I came back home two Thursday's ago with the intention of taking the MFX. Much to my surprise, the usual Detour through Brownsville signs were gone. I found myself going over the new Mon River Bridge shown in the video.

It was especially surprising since I had taken the unfinished MFX a week earlier in order to take my son camping in the mountains above Uniontown.

I do think if they ever find a way to build the MFX all the way into Pittsburgh, it will prove to be a vital highway. If you ever have the chance to drive the road, you will see literally thousands of undeveloped acres of land stretching from 51 all the way down to the WV border.

For my drives down to DC, I think it is very useful and it is much nicer taking that road to I-68 instead of dealing with the heavy traffic on the Mainline Turnpike.

Friday, July 27, 2012 2:01:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

They might get it into Monroeville, but I don't see how they actually get it into Pittsburgh.

Friday, July 27, 2012 3:21:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

I think the days of spending billions on otherwise unneeded highways in order to encourage greenfield sprawl in SWPA are likely over (thank goodness).

Friday, July 27, 2012 7:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One person's greenfield sprawl is another person's opportunity to get from one point to another in less than two hours. -- the same Anon poster as above.

Friday, July 27, 2012 7:31:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Great. Then let's keep the buses running at night so I don't have to walk home from the bar.

Friday, July 27, 2012 8:13:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

So when you are spending billions, you need more than one person's occasional benefit. We know where we have existing, unmet transportation needs that are much larger in the aggregate than the existing need for the MFE. So those alternatives should take priority.

In that sense, the case for the MFE, such as it is, has always depended not on current unmet needs, but on the needs it purportedly could stimulate. In other words, it always depended on the promise of stimulating sprawling greenfield development.

Of course even that promise was suspect--toll roads in particular struggle to be stimulative (they make more sense when needs are pre-existing, or will soon arise for independent reasons). One might almost suggest it was the mere spending of the billions itself that mattered to the relevant politicians.

Friday, July 27, 2012 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger Conservative Mountaineer said...


So, I take it you're happy to spend time sitting in traffic.. whether that be trying to travel in the Mon Valley back/forth to Pittsburgh or on the Parkway East/West through Pittsburgh.

As a business owner and one who utilizes trucking companies for transporting our goods, I will *bet* you whatever tgyou want that the trucking companies I use would *gladly* pay a toll *not* to sit in traffic behind a bunch of yinzers. I would gladly pay toll $ to travel unimpeded from the Airport area to either Monroeville or the MFX.

Remember, it's tool roads we're talking about. That's the Turnpike Commission.. who would issue bonds to finance construction. Investors shoulder the risk. You pay the tolls.. or take the slow road.

Also, it's NIMBY narrow-minded types like you who keep SW PA rooted solidly in any Century except the 21st Century. Enjoy your old years at the bottom as those of us who can exercise out ability to move South to more enlightened areas do so.

Oh, and keep voting Democrat. It's worked so well for you for 70+ years.

Saturday, July 28, 2012 9:27:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I will *bet* you whatever tgyou want that the trucking companies I use would *gladly* pay a toll *not* to sit in traffic behind a bunch of yinzers.

Keep the 61c and other routes running with sufficient frequency and I won't be on the Parkway. I will bet you that is much cheaper than a whole new road.

Saturday, July 28, 2012 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@MH -- Trying to increase the service of the 61C might help someone in McKeesport. Now, I know you'll find this hard to believe, but there are people who actually live beyond the borders of Allegheny County. Shocking, I know. And, even more shocking, their communities aren't served by the Port Authority. I know I am being sarcastic, but your statement about the 61C is typical of a Pittsburgher -- if you have to cross a bridge to get there, it isn't worth it (or, "If she lives on the other side of the Liberty Tubes, throw her phone number away").

@BrianTH -- there are always unmet transportation needs. Just because you have your own set of priorities doesn't mean the needs of individuals throughout Fayette & Washington Counties are not important.

There are about 130,000 people living in Fayette County. Completing this highway would help improve transportation connections between the largest economic generator in the region (Pittsburgh) and those 130,000 individuals (not to mention the thousands of people in Washington and Southeastern Allegheny counties). Building the southern betway would help thousands of individuals in and outside of Allegheny County get to and from the airport in a reasonable amount of time.

I realize that it was much more politically acceptable to build a brand new limited-access road back in the 50s & 60s. But, given the creaky nature of infrastructure around SW PA, there is a need for a highway that follows the Mon River.

There is a need for a highway system that will allow someone who lives near Canonsburg to get to Monroeville without using up an entire day stuck in tunnel traffic. Right now, my neighbor commutes from South of Bridgeville to Churchill every day for work. He would gladly pay a toll to avoid those tunnels. And right now, people in Southpointe would rather go to Morgantown than even attempt to get to Monroeville.

I doubt my rant will change anyone's mind, but getting to and from places quickly is a key driver in economic development. This highway must be completed. Too bad there is no political will to do so.n

Sunday, July 29, 2012 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Trying to increase the service of the 61C might help someone in McKeesport.

I have no idea what happens once you get past the Waterfront. I'm told if you go far enough, you see Kennywood.

My point is simply that it is far cheaper to serve the transportation needs of people who live in denser, closer areas than it is to serve the needs of people who commute more distance in a morning than I do in a week. Rather than recreating the whole highway system, maybe people should move closer.

Sunday, July 29, 2012 1:38:00 PM  

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