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A good bridge, when it is doing what it's supposed to do, is a hard thing to notice. We focus our eyes on the road as it stretches out ahead and pass along and over the bridge that is doing its job, paying it no heed. A good bridge offers the illusion of continuity, of solid ground. We accept it, or assume it, and miss the chance to experience just how seamless the connection is between where we've been and where we're going. We almost never recognize when we are being offered a good bridge.

Until we lose one. For almost two years, the much-traveled Schenley Drive bridge had been closed for major repairs. This is the bridge that connects the end of campus near the Frick Fine Arts building with Schenley Park, the bridge that offers us the pleasure of traveling back and forth handily between the urban landscape and the pastoral. I headed out to the outdoor garden at Phipps Conservatory one day at lunch time only to be stopped short. Blocking access to the bridge were orange and white barrels, concrete barriers, and, in case I hadn't noticed, a crudely hand-lettered "Road Closed" sign. I could no longer get there from here easily.

Through several seasons, the barricades held the bridge and the park at bay. Finally, one of the sidewalks on the bridge was restored to a variety of folks--bicyclists, pedestrians, roller bladers, joggers. On my first trip across, I had every intention of paying attention to the means of my passage. But it was not to be. I am one of those for whom civil engineering presents a pleasant mystery. The bridge, laden as it was with the equipment of its restoration, now offered all manner of puzzling machinery and processes and sounds to distract me. Here is the stuff, as far as I could tell, of which bridges, and construction projects, are made: green torpedo-shaped canisters that spout steam with the regularity of Old Faithful, steel rods curved as smoothly as garden hose, burlap sacks, dozens of barrels, a broken push broom, canvas tarps hung over the bridge railing like industrialsized laundry, trailers, and a steel form that resembled a monstrous centipede.

I've made several journeys now to the other side, but the bridge has continued to elude me. Still, I'm coming to terms with its nature--that it's a process as much as a marvel of engineering. Like the things that make life most possible--the air we breathe, love, a good teacher--it's right there under our feet, right where it's hardest to see, a place to step where we need it most.

The stuff of which Pitt Magazine is made I am intimately familiar with: deadlines, headlines, bluelines, and editors that spout with the regularity of Old Faithful. In this issue, we feature a profile of novelist and NPR commentator Bebe Moore Campbell. (Turn to page 32 for an excerpt from her latest novcl, Brothers and Sisters.) In "Claiming the High Post," get acquainted with new men's basketball coach Ralph Willard. Also in this issue, Tommy Ehrbar considers quarks and galaxies in "The Long and The Short of It," and l.aura Shefler looks back at an earlier decade at Pitt in "When the '50s Met the '60s. " We hope that you find, in Pitt Magazine, a good bridge of your own that helps to connect where you've been with where you re going.


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