PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Like many things having to do with fashion and romance, it started in Paris and spread around the world, literally taking hold here in Pittsburgh.
Thousands of locks, many bearing the names of couples, attached to city bridges. With the keys thrown away and combination forgotten, they are symbols of an enduring commitment.
But one person’s love token is another’s eyesore. Here in Pittsburgh, city and Allegheny County officials have seen enough.
“We would like people to express their love in other ways if they could,” says Stephen Shanley, the Allegheny County Public Works director.
Starting this year and over the next six years, the county will be spending $20 million rehabbing the Clemente, Warhol and Carson bridges.
Shanley says contractors will be removing all of the locks on all three spans to refurbish and repaint. They will also lop off any that may reappear.
“We want to discourage it in the future,” says Shanley.
Locks rust and others chip paint. In Paris, there were so many it threatened collapse one bridge, so the city had them removed in sections.
“Some people out there find the locks a nice attraction,” says Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Gable. “Others find them to be a detracting visual.”
The most popular place in the city to lock in your love is the Schenley Drive Bridge in Oakland, but since there are no plans to rehab that bridge, the locks will stay for now.
However, Gable has ordered crew to remove the locks from the nearby Anderson Bridge where they just started springing up.
“We need to get them off now before they become a populated area,” he said.
With spring around the corner, romance is in the air, but going forward, the city and the county want lovers to find another way to lock in their commitment.