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

The Vague Original Southern Terminus of US Route 91 in the Californian Mojave Desert

One of the more intriguing mysteries of the early US Route System in California is where the original south terminus of US Route 91 was intended to be located in the Mojave Desert.  This blog is a little different than my usual behind the wheel fare and explores why US Route 91 ultimately ended at US Route 66 in Daggett instead of Bannock. What ultimately became the US Route System was first discussed during the American Association of State Highway Officials ("AASHO") during their annual 1924 meeting.  Ultimately the AASHO recommended to the Department of Agriculture to work with the States to develop a system of Interstate Highways to replace the many Auto Trails in use.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways was ultimately commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and it's branch agency the Bureau of Public Roads in March of 1925.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways first met in April of 1925 and decided on the new interstate road network would be known a

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395. The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s. Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog? 

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  The Ridge Route is a 44 mile section of highway which was completed in 1915.  The Ridge Route originally stretched from Castaic Junction north over Liebre Summit and Tejon Pass to the tiny community of Grapevine.  In spite of a roadway that once utilized nearly 700 curves the Ridge Route is generally considered far ahead of it's time and one of the first modern highways constructed for automotive use.