Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ohio River Blvd. extended Allegheny Co. line to Ambridge's 8th St.

Ohio River Blvd., which now runs from Pittsburgh to New Brighton, was built in phases, each one extending the road further north. By the late 1930s, the boulevard had been extended as far as Emsworth. From there, vehicles needed to travel via local roads through towns like Emsworth, Sewickley, Edgeworth, Leetsdale, Ambridge, and further north.

Given the ever-increasing vehicle traffic and congested roads, Beaver County officials and business leaders were anxious for the "superhighway" to extend into the Beaver Valley, envisioning a road that went as far north as New Brighton, or perhaps, even as far as the Ohio border.

In October 1930, a committee from Ambridge's Board of Trade met with the Beaver County Engineer in Ambridge to study the road's best route through Ambridge. At the time, Park Road was the most western street in the southern end of town. The 1924 photo below shows what served as a road east of the railroad tracks at the American Bridge Co.

Area to the east of the railroad tracks at American Bridge Co.
July 2, 1924
Laughlin Memorial Library archives

WWII spurred the boulevard's extension from Edgeworth, where it ended at the time, to American Bridge Company's Navy Shipyard in Leetsdale, where vital LSTs were built, and in 1945 - 46 to 8th St. in Ambridge.

This 1945 War Department aerial gives a good view of American Bridge and the south end of Ambridge before Ohio River Blvd. was built between them:

Aerial map of American Bridge and south Ambridge
U.S. War Dept.
1945
Laughlin Memorial Library archives

The photos below show some of the progress of construction from the Allegheny Co. line to 8th St.

The first photo shows the work being done between the American Bridge Co. office building on the far right and the railroad station platforms.

"Progress Photograph of Ohio River Boulevard"
April 11, 1945
Laughlin Memorial Library archives

"Progress Photograph of Ohio River Boulevard"
April 11, 1945
Laughlin Memorial Library archives

The photo below shows the 200 and 300 block of Park Rd. (200 block to right, 300 block center and left) in the background beyond the parked cars. The houses in the photo are still there. I think the structure in the foreground on the very left is the corner of the elevated train station.

"Progress Photograph of Ohio River Boulevard"
April 11, 1945
Laughlin Memorial Library archives

"Progress on Ohio River Boulevard"
May 2, 1945
Laughlin Memorial Library archives

"View from Plant Bridge To Leetsdale"
"Progress on Ohio River Boulevard"
July 5, 1945
Laughlin Memorial Library archives

The new Ambridge section of the boulevard was formally opened October 15, 1946.

From the boulevard, drivers wishing to continue north would turn right on 8th St., then eventually make a left onto Duss Ave.

The boulevard's dead end at 8th St. was the site of a number of accidents over the years, with some drivers failing to notice that the road ended, and semi trucks having difficulty making the turn onto 8th St.

A further extension of Ohio River Blvd. from 8th St. to Baden opened in 1960.