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I-579 Cap Project Connecting Lower Hill District And Downtown Complete

By: KDKA-TV's Shelley Bortz

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The I-579 cap project is complete and the Frankie Pace Park is open.

The park, which is actually a roof over the highway, has been in the works for several years. The project connects downtown to the Lower Hill District.

Piles of dirt and construction fencing are a thing of the past. The beautiful 3-acre park is officially open for everyone to use.

It was two years in the making.

Back in the 1950s when the Crosstown Boulevard was constructed, it separated the Hill District from downtown and alienated all of its residents. The I-579 cap project has the opportunity to right a wrong by reestablishing a connectivity of the two neighborhoods.

"This is really a time to celebrate. A great injustice was done in the 50s and this is finally, long last, a way to address that injustice, begin to address it," said Gov. Tom Wolf.

Crews have been hard at work for two years transforming the space, with a bright vision for people who work and play in the area. The project created a 3-acre park on top of the highway bordered by Bigelow Boulevard, Centre Avenue, Chatham Street and Washington Place.

The time has been spent capping off the once open highway area near the former Civic Arena, adding a roof and turning it into a park fit with walkways, bike paths, an amphitheater, an education area and benches to rest.

"You'll see as you walk around the park, there's red on the ground. That's actually the Sankofa bird that if you were looking down from above, you would be able to see, which is reflective of saying for us to move forward. We also have to acknowledge your past and that's what we're doing today," said City Councilman Daniel LaVelle.

The park is named after longtime Hill District community activist Frankie Pace.

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