A Brief History of Neville Island

Neville Island

Neville Island, also known as Neville Township, is located in Allegheny County. The entire township is an island in the middle of the Ohio River.  The island was formerly known as Montour’s Island. The name Montour comes from Native American interpreter Andrew Montour, who lived on the island in colonial times. Pre-American Revolution, the island was claimed by Pennsylvania and the state of Virginia as well. The dispute over ownership of the land went all the way to the Supreme Court. Charles Simms won the case and ownership of the island, which was eventually transferred to his partner in the lawsuit, General John Neville. Neville is whom the island and township was named after. The township was incorporated on April 8, 1854 from a piece of Ohio Township. In 1903, a newspaper ad allegedly promoted Neville Island as “the next Manhattan Island.”

Facts about Neville Island

Neville Island

In 1998, the Island Sports Center was built by the Hillman Company in 1998. Robert Morris University bought the center in 2003—inside is a hockey rink, mini golf course, pro shop and more. The township has an area of 2.2 square miles and the island is five miles long. Adjacent neighborhoods include Coraopolis, Robinson Township, Stowe and Kennedy Township. Across the river’s main channel includes Haysville, Glenfield, Kilbuck, Emsworth, Avalon and Ben Avon.

The Neville Island Bridge

Neville Island Bridge

The Neville Island Bridge was the last link completed on Interstate 79’s 180 mile stretch, and is the second longest single spanning bridge in Allegheny County. It’s a tied arch bridge, with a 125′ arch, that carries I-79 and the Yellow Belt over Neville Island, west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1977, a crack in the bridge was discovered, causing it to close until repairs could be done. It was found that the crack was not due to design, but a failed weld. In 2010, PennDot completed $20.8 million in improvements on I-79 and the bridge. In 2021, a restoration project began, set to be completed by The Trumbull Corporation at a cost of $43 million USD. The project involves structural steel repairs, painting, bearing and deck joint replacements, deck repairs, bridge barrier repair, substructure concrete work, and drainage improvements. The entrance ramp to I-79 from Grand Avenue was temporarily closed and detoured via Neville Island, the Coraopolis Bridge, Pennsylvania Route 51 South, and to Exit 64, but has since reopened.

Find out more about Neville Island and Neville Township on their official website, right here.

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