Friday, July 15, 2022

1928 Liberty Street Bridge over Monongahela River and 1924 Tunnels in Pittsburgh, PA

Tunnel: (Bridge Hunter; pghbridges; Satellite: North Portal, South Portal)

HAER PA,2-PITBU,64--12 (CT)
3/4 VIEW FROM RIVERBANK, FROM SOUTH. - Liberty Bridge, Spanning Monongahela River, East Carson Street & Second Avenue at State Route 3069, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA

On the left side of this image you can see the concrete retaining wall above the tunnel's north portal. Also of interest is that there are still some industrial buildings along the river.
Street View

 On the left side, you can see some of the concrete of the tunnel portals.
Street View

North Portal
Street View

South Portal
Street View

"This 2,663'-0", sixteen-span, $3.7 million Pratt deck truss bridge was the longest and most expensive bridge built in Allegheny County when it was completed in 1928. The bridge features two 450'-0" cantilevered main spans with suspended sections over the Monongahela River and deck girder approach spans on either side. The bridge links Pittsburgh's downtown area with the Liberty Tunnels, built through Mt. Washington in 1924. The opening of the tunnels and the bridge were instrumental in the development of Pittsburgh's South Hills suburbs. The Liberty Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988." [HAER-data]

This photo of the Panhandle Bridge also has a good view of the Liberty Bridge and North Portal.
BrooklineConnection via Dennis DeBruler, License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)

The 5,889' Liberty Tubes penetrate the 400' high, 5-mile long Mount Washington and provide access to the South Hills. [pghbridges-bridge, pghbridges-tunnel]
Postcard via BridgeHunter-bridge

I have not found out what work was being done on the bridge to cause it to be shrouded in tarps. But I presume this image was taken around 2016 because a fire in the tarps caused the bridge to be closed Sep 2, 2016. 30' of the truss was damaged, including a buckled compression member. [cbsnews]
3D Satellite

The tunnels were completed in 1922, but the opening was put off until 1924 after a ventilation solution was added. That solution was not adequate so vertical shafts were added at the midpoints to a ventilation building on top of Mt. Washington. "Carrying 25,000 vehicles in 1932, the Tubes were over their designed capacity. In 2000, the average daily traffic was 63,027." A proposal for an interchange between Saw Mill Run Blvd. and West Liberty Av. was made in 1919. An interchange was finally built in 1999. [phgbridges-tunnel]
3D Satellite
Haunted Pittsburgh LLC posted
In January 1924, the public got to ride through the newly built tunnel—the county conducted a series of test runs with actual cars and trucks to try out the ventilation system. At 5,889 feet, it was the longest concrete traffic tunnel in the world designed for automobiles when it opened. There was no Liberty Bridge yet (it opened in 1928)—and the ventilation was a problem, to put it charitably. The experts knew that ventilation was needed, and the county was working to install a system, but they opened the tunnel before they got it right. On May 10, 1924, tragedy struck. A streetcar strike caused cars to swamp the new tunnel. Some 33 people were overcome by the carbon monoxide, 100 others were affected. Soon, a proper ventilation system was installed (the Fan House on Secane Avenue in Mount Washington is massive).
Since then, the tunnel has seen every permutation of the human condition: babies have been born there and people have died there. A highlight: the inbound tunnel was closed on February 15-16, 1990, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for filming of a scene in the Academy Award winning “Silence of the Lambs.” Hannibal Lecter had escaped from his cell (filmed at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland), culminating in a shocking scene as an ambulance flew through the Liberty Tunnels. The scene runs just a few seconds, but it culminates in a moment that may be the high-water mark of movie horror.
Will Moore: Real Western Pennsylvanians know these are actually called the "Liberty Tubes."
Dan Waters: Will Moore and we know we're going to be in that dam thing an hour.
Loraine Nolder: Or, just "The Tubes".

Straight Outta Pittsburgh posted
Construction in progress on the Liberty Tunnels, 1920.
Van Michael: My father made me drive through the Liberty Tubes on my learners permit (1970)......scared me to death.....made it and it worked, wasn't scared anymore.
I was 16 when Dad hade me drive through the tubes. Squirrel Hill tunnel was a cake walk after the Liberty Tubs.

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