The City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy are jointly leading a project to create the concept design for Heth's Run -- a sizable swath of Highland Park.
Beginning with the Regional Parks Master Plan (2000, 2015), there have been a number of planning efforts for this part of Highland Park. All have proposed a restored entrance, improved parking, and increased recreational facilities.
A new and exciting stage of this ongoing work is underway, led by the engineering firm D’Appolonia, with landscape architects Wallace, Roberts, and Todd (WRT), Biohabitats, Nelson Nygard Transportation Planners, Kolano Design, and HR&A Advisors, Inc. The team works under joint direction of the City’s Department of Public Works and the Parks Conservancy, in partnership with PWSA and the zoo, and with extensive participation by neighborhood representatives and stakeholders.
The current project envisions Heth’s Run as a grand park entrance that plays a major role in capturing stormwater. Highland Park's distinguished art and architectural history will be a source of design inspiration. The project will create a new green frontage for Highland Park; a recreation area with a soccer field; walking/biking trails; a reconfigured zoo parking lot and entrance; and an Allegheny River overlook. A state-of-the-art stormwater management system will reduce stormwater entering the combined sewer system while improving wildlife habitat.
About Heth’s Run
Located between the Morningside and Highland Park communities, this former stream valley extends from the Allegheny River to Heth’s Park, and includes the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium parking lot. The Heth’s Run valley encompasses more than 60 acres of Highland Park. One of two major stream valleys within the park (the other being Negley Run), Heth’s Run was initially undeveloped.
In the early 20th century, sewer lines were placed in the valley to service surrounding neighborhoods. The valley was also used for the disposal of incinerator ash and other materials before being partially filled with a layer of slag and cinders, partially filling the valley to form a relatively flat area.
The zoo’s growth eventually necessitated using this flat area for its entrance and parking facility, leased from the City of Pittsburgh. The northern portion of the lot (closest to the Allegheny River) is paved with asphalt, and the southern end of the valley has been used by the City for construction material storage.
Reclaiming the Heth’s Run valley will require carefully managing these ecological challenges and could include reuse of the City’s salvaged construction materials.
About Heth’s Run Bridge
The new Heth’s Run Bridge, on Butler Street at the intersection of One Wild Place, is the product of a successful collaboration between the City, PennDOT, the Pittsburgh Zoo, and the Parks Conservancy, as well as leaders in the Highland Park and Morningside communities. Recalling the look of its 1914 predecessor, the bridge was completed in fall 2014 as the first step toward fulfilling the vision of a reclaimed Heth’s Run.