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
Looking south at the Veterans Bridge from Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the north banks of the Allegheny River. 06/13/10
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