Interstate 579 Pennsylvania
Interstate 579 is Crosstown Boulevard in Pittsburgh, an urban freeway spur from I-279 on the North Shore to Downtown and the Golden Triangle. The route crosses the Allegheny River along the Veterans Memorial Bridge to the north and ends at the approach to the Liberty Bridge above the Monongahela River to the south. The route concludes just shy of Interstate 376/U.S. 22-30 (Penn Lincoln Parkway East).
I-579 Cap Urban Connector Project
Interstate 579 separates the Pittsburgh central business district to the west with the historic Hill District to the east. A $32 million project reunited the two areas with a new deck supporting three acres of public open space spanning Crosstown Boulevard. Initially estimated to cost $26.4 million, the project received a $19 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the federal government in July 2016. The deck built over I-579 at the site of the former Civic Arena hosts a tree lined promenade and gardens. Developed by the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority, the adjacent 28 acre site was slated for offices, retail and 1,200 housing units.5
Final design work for the project was completed and bidding for construction of Cap Connection Park was underway in March 2019.7 A contract for the $32 million project was awarded in May 2019, followed by a notice to proceed on June 24, 2019.8 Construction on the I-579 Cap Urban Connector Project commenced on June 24, 2019. Work was substantially completed in November 2021, and a grand opening ceremony took place on November 22, 2021.9
Since the connection at the south end of I-579 with Interstate 376 is not a full interchange, the route is an odd-digit spur as opposed to an even-digit loop. Originally designated Interstate 479, the urban freeway was planned as a complete loop between I-79 along Parkway North and I-76 along Parkway East. With approval by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) on June 30, 1970, Interstate 479 was renumbered as I-876 when I-279 and I-79 traded places. The designation changed again in 1971 to I-579, as the freeway would not directly connect with newly designated Interstate 376 along Penn Lincoln Parkway east.
Interstate 579 was built in stages, with the Crosstown Boulevard portion, between the Boulevard of the Allies (PA 885) and Centre Avenue opened in 1962, and from Centre Avenue to Bigelow Boulevard (PA 380) completed in 1964.1,2 Construction on the Veterans Bridge commenced in 1984 at a cost of around $16 million. The span was incorporated into the overall $400 million project for the North Shore Expressway / Interstate 279. The Veterans Bridge opened initially in 1988 and fully in Fall 1989 with the completion of the I-279 connectors.3
The Veterans Memorial Bridge is a steel girder bridge. It accommodates seven overall lanes and is 1050 feet long. The span provides three continuous lanes for I-579 south, two lanes with an auxiliary lane for I-579 north, and a reversible HOV lane between the two roadways. The I-579 HOV lanes extend southward from the carpool lanes on I-279 to Bedford and 7th Avenues at Downtown
The Liberty Bridge is not a part of Interstate 579. The bridge, which was built in 1926-1928, predates Crosstown Boulevard and is designated as SR 3069.1 It is a steel cantilever bridge carrying four lanes over the Monongahela River with the center lanes reversible. A traffic signal at McArdle Roadway is the only break in continuous flow between the Liberty Bridge and the Liberty Tunnels. The tunnels were built in 1924 by Allegheny County and at 5,889 feet each in length, are the longest tunnels in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.4
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-579 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
Source: 2020 AADT PennDOT Traffic Volume Maps
An interchange was planned for the south end of Crosstown Boulevard and Penn Lincoln Parkway East in 1950.2 It was never built.
Interstate 876 became I-579 as approved by AASHTO on December 3, 1971. The actions for I-579 were coupled with the renumbering of Penn Lincoln Parkway East to I-376 and the renumbering of Interstate 80S as the new I-76 mainline from northwest of Pittsburgh to near Seville, Ohio.
Original plans for Interstate 579 called for ramps to Fort Duquesne Boulevard on the south side of the Allegheny River. Those ramps were cut from the budget, but not from signs. Fort Duquesne Boulevard appeared on signage along I-579 north until 1991.6
North End – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Penn-Lincoln Parkway North – South at
PA 28, a freeway straddling the northern banks of the Allegheny River northeast to Harmar Township, ties into the exchange of I-279 and I-579. There is no direct access to PA 28 north from I-279 south. Instead motorists are directed onto East Street (frontage road) south to Ohio Street east to make the connection. 06/14/10
South End – Liberty Bridge Approach – Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
South at Liberty Bridge Approach
Traffic partitions into single lane ramps for the Liberty Bridge and PA 885 (Boulevard of the Allies) south to Interstate 376 east as I-579 ends. The mainline drops into a signalized merge with the Crosstown Boulevard ramps from 6th and Forbes Avenue ahead of the Liberty Bridge over the Monongahela River. 06/14/10
Liberty Bridge – North at
Penn-Lincoln Pkwy East – West at
Exit 73A loops onto PA 885 (Bates Street) south to 2nd Avenue and Irvine Street as Interstate 376/U.S. 22-30 advances 0.75 miles to a wye interchange (Exit 72B) for PA 885 (Boulevard of the Allies) north to I-579. Interstate 376 meets the Monongahela River for the first time on this stretch. The two will closely follow each other all the way to the Point, where the Monongahela River feeds into the Ohio River. 09/30/10
South End Throwback
Penn-Lincoln Pkwy East – West at
Exit 2B partitioned from the westbound mainline of I-376/U.S. 22-30 for PA 885 (Boulevard of the Allies) north to I-579 (Crosstown Boulevard). Just above Penn Lincoln Parkway to the north is Duquesne University, a private, Catholic university that first opened in 1878. Its entire 40-acre campus is located on the Bluff, overlooking the Monongahela River and downtown Pittsburgh. 11/02/04
- Liberty Bridge – Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce S. Cridlebaugh).
- Pennsylvania Highways: Interstate 579.
- “The Bridges of Pittsburgh: Veterans Memorial Bridge.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 21, 2013.
- Liberty Tunnel – Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce S. Cridlebaugh).
- “Feds announce $19 million grant for Hill District, Downtown project.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 29, 2016.
- “Erroneous Penndot Sign Sends Wrong Signal to Visitors.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 4, 1991.
- “Penguins Introduce “Center of Energy” Plan for Lower Hill Redevelopment.” Penguins News, March 8, 2019.
- I-579 “Cap” Urban Connector Project. Sports & Exhibition Authority, project web site.
Page updated June 10, 2022.