Interstate 579 Pennsylvania

Interstate 579 Pennsylvania
History
North End
South End

Overview

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 28 month long construction project will reunite the two areas with a new deck 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 will span I-579 at the site of the former Civic Arena and consist of a tree-lined promenade and gardens. Developed by the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority, the adjacent 28-acre site is 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. Construction on the I-579 Cap Urban Connector Project commenced on July 15, 2019. It is anticipated for completion in November 2021.8,9

History

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 and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) 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

I-579 Veterans Bridge - Pittsburgh, PA
Looking south at the Veterans Bridge from Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the north banks of the Allegheny River. June 13, 2010.

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

Route Information

  • North End – Pittsburgh, PA

  • South End – Pittsburgh, PA

  • Mileage – 2.73

  • Cities – Pittsburgh

  • JunctionsI-279

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-579 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Location Vehicles per day
Veterans Bridge 45,000
Liberty Bridge 45,000
Crosstown Boulevard shown as Interstate 479 – 1968 Official Pennsylvania Highway Map

An interchange was planned for the south end of Crosstown Boulevard and Penn Lincoln Parkway East in 1950.2 It was never built.

Downtown Pittsburgh – 1971

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.

Gousha map of Downtown Pittsburgh, showing Interstate 876 along Crosstown Boulevard.

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 I-279 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I-579 North at I-279

I-579 north at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

An HOV roadway lines the inside lanes of the Veterans Bridge as Interstate 579 elevates over Pittsburgh Station and parking lots south of the Allegheny River. A wye interchange lies a quarter mile ahead with the PA 28 freeway northeast to Etna. 06/14/10

I-579 north at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

Two lanes of Interstate 579 north default onto I-279 north as a lane drop occurs for the PA 28 northbound off-ramp. I-279 winds through the northern suburbs to directly merge with Interstate 79 ahead of Cranberry Township. 06/14/10

I-579 north at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

An end Interstate 579 shield assembly stood beyond the gore point for PA 28 north to Etna. The empty brackets below the shield once held a north I-279 shield.
The I-579 shield went missing after May 2012. 06/14/10

I-279 Penn-Lincoln Parkway North south at I-579

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

The first in a series of overheads for the I-279 south wye interchange (Exit 2A) with Interstate 579 and the Veterans Bridge precedes the high-level Swindell Bridge. 06/14/10

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

The two-lane reversible roadway also partitions with ramps for Interstate 579 and the Veterans Bridge, affording commuters direct access to Downtown and CONSOL Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL franchise. 06/14/10

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

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

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

Interstate 279 separates with two lanes for the Veterans Bridge (Exit 2A) and two lanes for the continuation of Parkway North to the Fort Duquesne Bridge. The HOV roadway separates, with the I-279 lanes extending west to the PNC Park and Heinz Field area. 06/14/10

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

Ten overall lanes of traffic flow underneath the North Avenue over crossing with ramps from Interstate 279, the Veterans Bridge and the reversible HOV roadways converging. Interstate 579 angles southeast across the Allegheny River to meet PA 380 (Bigelow Boulevard) next. 06/14/10

PA Route 28 South at I-279 I-579

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

PA 28 travels through the Troy Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh to the exchange with I-279 and I-579. Improvements made to the PA 28 freeway by 2015 include a new concrete surface, a barrier median and exit numbers for I-279 (Exits 1B/A). 06/11/10

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

The PA 28 freeway drops below grade through the East Allegheny neighborhood to the wye interchange for the Veterans Bridge (I-579) south and the flyover connecting with I-279 (Parkway North) south to the Fort Pitt Bridge. 06/11/10

I-279 south at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

Traffic partitions into three ramps as PA 28 concludes a 98-mile route from Brockway via an off-ramp to Anderson Street. Ramps to Interstate 579 south to Downtown and the Hill District opened a year before those linking the Allegheny River span with I-279 (Parkway North). 06/11/10

South End – Liberty Bridge Approach – Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I-579 South at Liberty Bridge Approach

I-579 south at Liberty Bridge Approach - Pittsburgh, PA

Interstate 579 travels below grade from PA 380 (Bigelow Boulevard) to Centre Avenue, where it elevates across Fifth Avenue to the Liberty Bridge north end and trumpet interchange with Boulevard of the Allies (PA 885). 06/14/10

I-579 south at Liberty Bridge Approach - Pittsburgh, PA

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 I-579

Liberty Bridge Approach north at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

A community interchanges identification sign outlines the three mainline exits from Interstate 579 north for Downtown Pittsburgh to northbound drivers across the Liberty Bridge. 06/14/10

Liberty Bridge Approach north at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

Approaching the Liberty Bridge north end, drivers partition with a single lane ramp for Boulevard of the Allies, which parallels Penn Lincoln Parkway East from Downtown to Duquesne University and an eastbound ramp to I-376 for Monroeville. There is no access to I-376 west from I-579. 06/14/10

Liberty Bridge Approach north at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

Two lanes descend from Liberty Bridge north onto Crosstown Boulevard for both Interstate 579 north to the Veterans Bridge and to 6th and Forbes Avenues in Downtown Pittsburgh. I-579 commences with a single lane below the Boulevard of the Allies overpass. 06/14/10

Liberty Bridge north at I-579 - 2001

This set of button copy overheads at the north end of the Liberty Bridge was replaced after 2009. The pull through sign was changeable, as the inside lanes of Crosstown Boulevard are reversible. 10/01

I-376 US 22 US 30 Penn-Lincoln Pkwy East east at I-579

I-376 east at Liberty Bridge - Pittsburgh, PA

There is no connection from eastbound Interstate 376/U.S. 22-30 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway East) to I-579 or the Liberty Bridge over the Monongahela River. Here, Interstate 376 east passes under the Liberty Bridge. 10/28/04

I-376 US 22 US 30 Penn-Lincoln Pkwy East west at I-579

I-376 west at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

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

I-376 west at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

A lane drop occurs at Exit 72B, which combines with the left-hand side of PA 885 (Boulevard of the Allies) as parallels the north side of I-376 (Penn Lincoln Parkway East) to Duquesne University and a trumpet interchange with I-579 (Crosstown Boulevard) north and the Liberty Bridge south. 09/30/10

I-376 west at I-579 - Pittsburgh, PA

A second wye interchange interlaces with Exit 72B to add traffic to Interstate 376 west from PA 885 (Boulevard of the Allies) north. Exit 72B is not a direct connection to Interstate 579 north, as it requires motorists to utilize the at-grade Boulevard of the Allies for one mile. 09/30/10

I-579 South End Throwback

I-376 US 22 US 30 Penn-Lincoln Pkwy East west at I-579

I-376 west at I-579 - 2004

The first signage for Interstate 579 appeared as then Exit 3A (old Exit 7B) departed from I-376/U.S. 22-30 west for PA 885 south. Button copy signs here were replaced after 2007, following the extension of I-376 northward to Sharon and subsequent exit renumbering of the route. 11/02/04

I-376 west at I-579 - 2004

Penn Lincoln Parkway East drops below a retaining wall as it rides along the periphery of the Monongahela River to Downtown Pittsburgh and the Point. The freeway reduces to four lanes through the back to back wye interchanges with Boulevard of the Allies (former Exit 2B). 11/02/04

I-376 west at I-579 - 2004

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

Sources:

  1. Liberty Bridge – Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce S. Cridlebaugh).
  2. Pennsylvania Highways: Interstate 579.
  3. “The Bridges of Pittsburgh: Veterans Memorial Bridge.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 21, 2013.
  4. Liberty Tunnel – Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce S. Cridlebaugh).
  5. “Feds announce $19 million grant for Hill District, Downtown project.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 29, 2016.
  6. “Erroneous Penndot Sign Sends Wrong Signal to Visitors.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 4, 1991.
  7. “Penguins Introduce “Center of Energy” Plan for Lower Hill Redevelopment.” Penguins News, March 8, 2019.
  8. I-579 “Cap” Urban Connector Project. Sports & Exhibition Authority, project web site.
  9. “I-579 “Cap” Urban Connector Project begins Monday in Pittsburgh.” PennDOT – District 11 News, press release.

Page updated January 14, 2020.