Carrie Furnace Redevelopment Builds Opportunity in Pittsburgh

The Carrie Furnace Brownfield Redevelopment Project is just one example of GAI’s contributions toward transforming industrial brownfields into sites that support new services, housing, and economic opportunity.

The riverfronts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are dotted with sites that speak to the city’s proud heritage as the steel-making capitol of the world. While the vast majority of the great mills are long inactive, their ‘brownfield’ sites are being revitalized with the vision of bringing new economic opportunity to the region.

The Carrie Furnace on the Monongahela River is one such site. Brownfields like Carrie Furnace and other former industrial sites face significant challenges in the effort to make them suitable for future development. GAI Consultants has been retained by the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (RAAC) to provide program management services for the multi-phased Carrie Furnace Brownfield Redevelopment Project.

Areas of the Mon Valley have struggled economically over the past 30 years due to the closing of the steel mills, and GAI has worked with RAAC with the vision of bringing at least 1,000 new jobs to the region. In addition, the Carrie Furnace is one of several locations proposed for consideration as the site for Amazon’s HQ2—a prize that could mean 50,000 high-paying jobs for the region.

As program managers on the Carrie Furnace Brownfield Redevelopment Project, GAI serves as an extension of RAAC’s staff, providing consulting engineering services throughout permitting, planning, design, bidding, construction, and close-out phases of the project. GAI’s program management team led the development, coordinated and tracked progress of the phases, and worked with RAAC to make certain all project tasks were addressed and clearly assigned.

Bringing a Historic Brownfield Back to Life

The towering Carrie Furnaces numbers 6 and 7 once served Pittsburgh’s storied Homestead Works—they are the only non-operative blast furnaces in Pittsburgh left standing. Permitting for construction on the site started in 2006. Working with the State of Pennsylvania, GAI’s Cultural Resources group worked to document historical findings on the site, an effort that helped the Carrie Furnaces qualify for designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2006.

Carrie Furnace

“Our work was a major contributor to the Carrie Furnace site earning landmark status,” said James Greene, PE, GAI Engineering Manager, who serves as technical liaison between GAI and RAAC for the Carrie Furnace Brownfield Redevelopment Project.

Currently, GAI is overseeing work that includes constructing new stormwater channels and sewers to provide proper drainage; stormwater sampling and analysis; underground structure excavation; utility installation; and filling, capping, and grading nearly 75 acres of project site to raise it above the 100-year floodplain and render it suitable for development. “We needed to bring about of 400,000 cubic yards of material to bring the site to grade,” said Greene.

Proud Past, and Promise for Progress

In addition to its promise as an industrial site that will provide vital jobs to revitalize surrounding communities, the Carrie Furnace site is being developed as a mixed-use riverfront facility including bike paths and other features that will let the public enjoy an irreplaceable facet of Pittsburgh’s history.

“It’s gratifying to work toward bringing good jobs back to the very site where many local residents made their livings years ago,” said Greene. “The Carrie Furnaces don’t just commemorate Pittsburgh’s past, they hold promise for the region’s future.”

Some of GAI’s standout brownfield redevelopment projects include:

  • Almono: Formerly home to a steel mill, this 178-acre site recently renamed ‘Hazelwood Green’ will ultimately become an innovation hub featuring residential neighborhoods and public open spaces. Almono/Hazelwood Green is another site proposed as a possible location for Amazon’s HQ2.
  • Summerset at Frick Park: Winner of a 2003 Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA), this project turned a one-time slag dump into Pittsburgh’s largest and most noteworthy residential development since World War II.
  • PNC Park: GAI’s involvement in development of the 39,000-seat baseball stadium site project began with demolition of existing structures that required detour routes, relocated utilities, and permits.
  • UPMC East: GAI participated in the design of a new UPMC hospital built on approximately 19 acres of land situated at the southwest corner of State Routes 48 and 22. The site presented significant grading challenges and required substantial stormwater management upgrades.

James Greene, PE specializes in civil engineering projects, and has more than 30 years of experience. He has managed retail, residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational site development projects. Jim has completed water and sewer line designs; stormwater management and erosion control design; federal, state and local permitting; conceptual site and utility plans; master plans, construction cost estimates; hydrologic and hydraulic studies; and design of water quality infiltration trenches, dry wells, and infiltration basins.

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