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Pittsburgher Petitions to Save Bridge's Graffiti Geese

Friday, June 1, 2018

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As Pittsburgh’s South 10th Street Bridge undergoes rehabilitation, a local artist has created a petition to preserve the landmark geese that are painted at the top of one of the bridge's towers.

The $20 million bridge rehabilitation project covers the replacement of the bridge deck and painting, among other repairs. The bridge was opened in 1933 and is 1,275 feet long, the only conventional (parallel-cable) suspension bridge in Pennsylvania, according to the county.

Rehab vs. the Geese

In June 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation awarded the contract for rehabilitation of the South 10th Street Bridge to American Bridge Company of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. 

Dave Gingrich, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As Pittsburgh’s South 10th Street Bridge undergoes rehabilitation, local artist Tim Kaulen has released a petition to preserve the landmark geese that are painted at the top of one of the bridge towers.

While much of the rehab job is conventional, one aspect of the work piqued the interest of artist Tim Kaulen and others in the community: The repainting of the towers will presumably result in the eradication of the four geese painted on the top of the bridge's south tower. The geese—sometimes mistaken for dinosaurs—have stood guard over the span for 20 years, Kaulen says, placed there by a seemingly fearless street artist. 

Kaulen took action, creating an online petition to keep the geese last week; as of May 31, 452 people had signed, just short of half of his goal of 1,000 signatures. 

"The painting is understood to be an important landmark, specific to Pittsburgh's image of revitalization," Kaulen writes in the petition. "By preserving the artwork, and it's symbolic gesture of resilience and the spirit of the local arts community, the City of Pittsburgh will be once again be recognized for its commitment to public art and expression."
Kaulen added in a phone interview with PaintSquare Daily News that to him, the message of the artwork relates to the nature of perseverance in Pittsburgh and the survival of the arts in the city, through the area's upturns and downturns in economics. 
Kaulen also went on to note that his petition highlights the importance of the artwork to the general public, as the art is "inviting, has great personality and speaks to people in a way that’s not coming from a selfish place."
County Response
“The county has not received any petition or communication from anyone on this issue requesting that the geese be preserved,” Amie Downs, Communications Director for Allegheny County, told PaintSquare Daily News in an email. “We intend to continue moving forward with the rehabilitation of the bridge which will include replacement of the bridge deck, painting of the structure along with structural steel repairs, wrapping of the suspension cables and the installation of a dehumidification system.”
Work includes a total of 1,086 square yards of penetrating sealant protective coating application for reinforced concrete superstructure and substructure surfaces, along with coating existing and new structural steel surfaces. Work will also involve coating handrails with an organic zinc-rich system. Coating of cables with a high-build acrylic system is also included.
According to TribLIVE, the bridge is closed to outbound traffic through the end of November. Work is slated for completion in June 2019, and received both federal and state funding.
Kaulen himself has lived and worked in Pittsburgh for over 30 years, and began doing sculptural work in the mid-to-late 90s. He currently runs a program that teaches high school students welding and sculpture, known as Mobile Sculpture Workshop. 
Those interested in signing Kaulen's petition to preserve the geese can do so here.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair

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