Pennsylvania Department of Transportation—I-579 Urban Open Space Cap

Pennsylvania DOT reconnected a neighborhood and gave a community a new place to gather with its I-579 Urban Open Space Cap project.

In the 1950s, homes and businesses in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District neighborhood were demolished to construct the Civic Arena and other developments. During that time, Interstate 579 was built, creating a “concrete canyon” of tall retaining walls and noisy interstate traffic, separating the Hill District from Downtown. When the Civic Arena was demolished in 2012, reconnecting this neighborhood to downtown became a priority for PennDOT.

To do this, PennDOT improved pedestrian and bicycle access to the area by bridging an interstate with a new park. The park includes art designs from neighborhood artists in the form of story walls, an outdoor classroom, performance and green spaces, charging stations for electronic devises, and bike racks. Native trees, shrubs, and grasses help reduce road noise and relieve heat island effects. This $30 million project not only reconnects a community and provides a space for all, it is spurring redevelopment in the area for economic growth.