We'll cross that bridge when it comes to us

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


In 2005 and again in 2008, I wrote about a foot bridge planned to span the East Busway and railroad tracks from Ellsworth Avenue to the upper deck of Eastside. 

No one took me up on my suggestion that it be called S'Liber-side. Oh well. I'm not bitter.

When I first wrote about this bridge, Whole Foods stood alone with its little parking lot. Eastside was being planned.

In the time it has taken the city and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the railroads, PennDOT and all the other interests to resolve issues from property transfers and costs to right-of-way and state regulations and conditions for this bridge, Eastside has been around long enough to have lost an anchor tenant — Borders.

Just shows how tentative business is vis-a-vis the interminable time it takes to do anything having to do with railroads and the state. Just imagine if water and sewer were thrown into the mix.

Anyhoo, the URA has given the go-ahead and the steel is on order.

I spoke today with the artist designing the bridge. Sheila Klein grew up in East Liberty and spent a lot of time in Shadyside. Those were the days when Shadyside was hip and S’Liberty wasn’t. Now that’s kind of reversed, although nothing is really hip anymore.

Now she lives in Bow, Washington, near Seattle, which everyone thinks is hip but it’s post-hip because you don’t get to be hip very long, just by dint of the concept.

yellowstripesA rendering of her design is replicated at the top of this post.

This photo shows the inadvertent design that inspired her to replicate it on the bridge's footbed -- test lane-divider paint strips at the Liberty Avenue public works site.

In the drawing, the fence is studded with glass pieces that will sparkle in the sun. The glass will be made at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in Friendship. The poles are being refabricated at Keystone Metals in Larimer.

The suicide fence is disguised as sculpture and those little balls hanging down are lights.

This bridge is due no later than two days after Christmas.

Since I was a kid, footbridges have charmed me, even if they were two boards laid side by side over a creek. We had just such a rudimentary footbridge on our property and when it rained a lot, the water rushed below it, and it was thrilling.

Even though buses and trains will be rushing below, I can't wait to walk across this one.... well, I mean I guess I can after five years and counting.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.