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It takes more than brains to build bridges among constituents

It’s not enough to have terrific engineering skills. A firm has to be able to work well with others, too.

Consider Heth’s Run Bridge in Pittsburgh. It’s a striking 215-foot single-span structure that recently replaced the original built about 100 years ago. During the ribbon-cutting, Dan Cessna, then a district executive for PennDOT, said, “This is one of the most beautiful bridges we’ve built in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” For what it’s worth, Pennsylvania has 25,000 state-owned bridges.

Buchart Horn designed the replacement bridge. As important was the role Buchart Horn played in meeting the wishes of a variety of constituents, including PennDOT; the city of Pittsburgh; the Highland Park Community Club, which represented one end of the bridge; and Morningside Area Community Council, which represented the other.

That’s not all. Also weighing in were the office of Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Friends of the Riverfront, and the Parks Conservancy.

“We attended a lot of meetings with the stakeholders,” says Project Manager Noreen L. Karolski, PE. “Things just kept changing, so we had to keep meeting. And, we basically just said, ‘Yes, we will accommodate your wishes as long as PennDOT is okay with it,’ since it was PennDOT’s bridge.”

Although the award-winning project took more than a decade to complete, it’s a shining example of good things taking time. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, “Neighborhood leaders also see it as a crossing from Pittsburgh’s grimy industrial past to a future that is lush with greenery.”

Officials envision the bridge as a key part of a bigger plan that will eventually lead to the creation of a green space on the area now occupied by the zoo’s parking lot which will connect with the riverfront. Eventually, it could be part of a riverfront park and trail network stretching from Downtown Pittsburgh to Oakmont.

Find out more about this interesting project in our latest issue of Insight. .