Skip to main content

The Bigelow Blvd. / Crosstown Expressway (Interstate 579) Ghost Ramp Mystery Explained

For nearly five decades, many Pittbsurgh-area motorists, when leaving the old Civic Arena or exiting off the Crosstown Expressway onto Bigelow Boulevard, have wondered what exactly the ghost ramp in the above photo was for.  Where was it to have come from?  When and why did they stop?  Will it ever be built?
For over 20 years, Rand McNally's maps of downtown Pittbsurgh included a full connection between the Crosstown Expressway and Bigelow Boulevard.
The original plans for the Crosstown Expressway included a full interchange with Bigelow Boulevard.  However, these plans never came to fruition.  The only ramps that were built were from I-579 North onto to the Bigelow and from Bigelow Boulevard/PA 380 West to I-579 South.  The above ramp was to have come from I-579 South, and depending on what older map of Pittsburgh you have over or under the existing roadway, and on to Bigelow/PA 380 East.  It never came to be, and the HOV ramp to what was once the Civic Arena has basically eliminated the need for completing this interchange.


The two photos above show the retaining wall with the ghost ramp and how it would have connected onto Bigelow.  The below photo shows exactly how narrow the off-ramp would have been.
There are two of different theories on why the full interchange was never built.  One is that the ramps would have resulted in the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station, Penn Station, to be torn down and that local preservation groups fought to keep it standing.  However, outside of this video discussing the Bigelow ghost ramps, I have never heard of that.  It is correct that the completion of I-579 and the  construction of the Veterans Bridge carrying the Interstate over the Allegheny River did impact the former Pennsylvania Railroad freight building; however, the highway's construction had no impact on the former rail station.  The other reason mentioned is that funding for completion of the Crosstown Expressway, Interstate 579, required some type of mass transit/high occupancy vehicle requirement.  The I-279/579 HOV lanes were the result of this and because of this the additional ramps were taken out.  It is most likely the combination of the two - the addition of the HOV lanes - and impact to the freight warehouse - that caused the full Bigelow Boulevard interchange to be shelved.

The final three photos shows how far along construction on this ramp went - and in even photos taken in 2001 - how the long abandoned ramp had been overgrown with grass, brush and trees.




In addition, there were once plans to have an additional interchange along Interstate 579 connecting the Crosstown Expressway with Fort Duquesne Boulevard.  If you have any information on the overall plans and demise of the Bigelow or Ft. Duquesne Blvd. ramps and interchanges, please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.

Sources & Links:

Comments

JQ said…
I think the requirement for the HOV lane basically killed it. Here is the theory video I did a few years back
https://youtu.be/UD--BlyIEbw

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo

Originally US Route 101 upon descending Cuesta Pass southbound entered the City of San Luis Obispo via Monterey Street.  From Monterey Street US Route 101 utilized Santa Rosa Street and Higuera Street southbound through downtown San Luis Obispo.  Upon departing downtown San Luis Obispo US Route 101 would have stayed on Higuera Street southward towards Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande.  Notably; beginning in 1934 US Route 101 picked up California State Route 1 at the intersection of Monterey Street/Santa Rosa Street where the two would multiplex to Pismo Beach.  Pictured below is the 1 935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County depicting the original alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in the City of San Luis Obispo.   Part 1; the history of US Route 1 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo lies at the bottom of the Cuesta Pass (also known as the Cuesta Grade) which has made it favored corridor of travel for centuries.  Cuesta Pass

Former California State Route 1 over Old Pedro Mountain Road

California State Route 1 in western San Mateo County traverses the Montara Mountain spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  In modern times California State Route 1 passes through Montara Mountain via the Tom Lantos Tunnels and the highway is traditionally associated with Devils Slide.  Although Devils Slide carries an infamous legacy due it being prone landslides it pales in comparison to the alignment California State Route 1 carried prior to November 1937 over Old Pedro Mountain Road.   Old Pedro Mountain Road opened to traffic in 1915 and is considered one of the first major asphalted highways in California.  Old Pedro Mountain Road clambers over a grade from Montara towards Pacifica via the 922 foot high Saddle Pass.  Pictured above an overlook of Old Pedro Mountain Road facing southward towards Montara as it appears today.  Pictured below it the same view during June 1937 when it was part of the original alignment of California State Route 1.  Today Old Pedro Mountain sits abandoned a