The City of Bethlehem and the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, following the success of the new SteelStacks campus and Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, are moving forward with the next exciting development of the former Bethlehem Steel site: a major study to determine how the historically significant Hoover-Mason Trestle can be redeveloped and revitalized. WRT, the master planners and designers of both the SteelStacks environs and the Levitt Pavilion, have been engaged to provide concept design and engineering services for this study.
The Hoover-Mason Trestle was identified as a significant resource for pedestrian connectivity by a panel of experts at a recently completed design forum in Baltimore sponsored by the American Architectural Foundation. In its heyday, the trestle was used to carry ore cars from the Ore Yard area - currently the site of the Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort - to the blast furnaces. It was part of an overhead material conveyance system that, for the most part, still exists. The project area will include the entire length of the Hoover-Mason Trestle, which currently extends from the recently completed Visitors Center at the Stock House to the entrance to the Sands Bethlehem hotel. The trestle is owned by Sands BethWorks Retail, LLC, a separate partnership formed to redevelop the non-gaming portions of the site.
According to Antonio Fiol-Silva, FAIA, a principal of WRT, "Our plan is to advance conceptual designs for the use of the existing structure in the development of a pedestrian-oriented promenade supporting circulation, historic interpretation and passive recreation uses and providing connectivity to existing and future potential uses in existing structures such as the Gas Blowing House, Machine Shop Number 2, and a future parking garage. This project is not only about connecting what exists today, but also what will exist tomorrow."
Mayor John Callahan stated, "This is a very unique opportunity to capitalize on this very important part of the site’s history. Instead of moving iron ore from the ore yard to the blast furnaces we have an unprecedented opportunity to move people from one end of the site to the other, providing them with a perspective on the buildings, especially the blast furnaces, that are spectacular." Jeff Parks, ArtsQuest President, added, "It’s important to continue to create more things for people to do on the site. We have created a very vibrant arts and cultural campus at SteelStacks. We need to ensure that our visitors and the visitors who come to the Sands Bethlehem will be able to feel like they are visiting one site with multiple opportunities for entertainment and recreation."
The study is composed of two phases, Preliminary Concept Design and Final Concept and Preliminary Engineering. The work is slated to be completed by early December 2012.