Bridge collapse in Pittsburgh hours before  Biden arrives

Rescuers form HUMAN CHAIN to save passengers from bus dangling from collapsed Pittsburgh bridge – just hours before Biden visits the city to promote his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill

  • Police reported the span, located in the city’s Frick Park neighborhood, came down some time around 7am on Friday morning
  • Several cars as well as a Port Authority bus were involved in the collapse. Ten people were injured, three taken to hospital but none of the injuries are life-threatening, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Chief Darryl Jones said
  • A photo from the scene shows the commuter bus  – which had three passengers and a driver on board – upright on a section of the collapsed bridge while another vehicle is shown dangling near the edge 
  • A September 2019 inspection of the city-owned bridge revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory 
  • The steel span, built in 1970, carried about 14,500 vehicles a day and is posted with a 26-ton weight limit
  • Rescuers rappelled nearly 150ft and others formed a human chain to pluck commuters from the vehicles 
  • After reports of a strong smell of gas in the air a natural gas line was cut and nearby homes were evacuated
  • The collapse happened hours before President Biden’s scheduled visit to Pittsburgh to tout his $1.2trillion infrastructure bill, which includes bridge maintenance. The White House announced the visit will go ahead
  • Rescuers formed a human chain to rescue four people from a commuter bus left dangling off the edge of a collapsed bridge in Pittsburgh early Friday. 

    Photographs from the scene showed the bus – which had three passengers and a driver on board – perched upright on the edge of the bridge, which was was determined to be in poor overall condition by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in 2019.  

    The two-lane span, on Forbes Avenue over Fern Hollow Creek in Frick Park – one of Pittsburgh’s largest parks – caved in around 7 a.m, taking multiple vehicles with it.  

    Hours after the collapse President Joe Biden visited the city to tout his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes bridge maintenance.  

    Biden toured the damaged bridge accompanied by senator Bob Casey, congressman Conor Lamb, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and others and visited one end of the collapsed bridge where he spoke with first responders and local and state officials for an impromptu briefing, the Washington Post reported. 

    At one point the president put his hand on shoulder of a police officer and said, ‘these guys deserve an incredible amount of credit.’

    Biden asked for updates from officials as he surveyed the damage from afar. 

    The red Port Authority bus could still be seen from the edge, which hours after the collapse was roped off with yellow police tape, as well as a damaged pickup truck, a black sedan and two other overturned cars

    ‘I’ve been coming to Pittsburgh a long time,’ Biden said, adding that there are more bridges than any other city in the world.

    ‘And we’re going to fix them all,’ he said.

    It is not yet known what caused the span – built in 1970 – to give out, but it is one of 123 bridges rated ‘poor’ in Allegheny County, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory.

    Sam Wasserman, a spokesperson for Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, said the most recent inspection occurred in September but the report was not immediately available.

    A September 2019 inspection of the city-owned bridge revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory.  

    The department’s website says the deck condition was rated ‘4 – Poor,’ the superstructure condition was also ‘4 – Poor,’ and the substructure condition was rated ‘6 – Satisfactory,’ CNN reported.  

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    An overhead shot of the two-lane span, on Forbes Avenue over Fern Hollow Creek in Frick Park- one of Pittsburgh's largest parks- came down around 7 a.m, taking multiple vehicles with it

    An overhead shot of the two-lane span, on Forbes Avenue over Fern Hollow Creek in Frick Park- one of Pittsburgh’s largest parks- came down around 7 a.m, taking multiple vehicles with it

    Dramatic photos show the Port Authority bus- which had three passengers and a driver on board - perched upright on the edge of the bridge. Other rescuers rappelled nearly 150ft to help with the rescue.

    Dramatic photos show the Port Authority bus- which had three passengers and a driver on board – perched upright on the edge of the bridge. Other rescuers rappelled nearly 150ft to help with the rescue.

    A Port Authority bus that had three passengers and a driver inside was on the bridge when it collapsed, miraculously no one was injured

    A Port Authority bus that had three passengers and a driver inside was on the bridge when it collapsed, miraculously no one was injured

    A red pick up truck with an overturned vehicle is visible following the collapse of a bridge in Pittsburgh early Friday morning

    A red pick up truck with an overturned vehicle is visible following the collapse of a bridge in Pittsburgh early Friday morning

    Emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the collapse and had to form a human chain to help rescue multiple people from a dangling bus

    Emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the collapse and had to form a human chain to help rescue multiple people from a dangling bus

    An overturned car remains on a Pittsburgh bridge that overturned on Friday morning. Authorities said the cause of the collapse of the 'vital' bridge in the Frick Park are is still unknown

    An overturned car remains on a Pittsburgh bridge that overturned on Friday morning. Authorities said the cause of the collapse of the ‘vital’ bridge in the Frick Park are is still unknown 

    Councilman Corey O'Connor said that the collapse of the vital bridge could effect traffic in the area for years: 'This is a vital road, artery, in our area,' he said.

    Councilman Corey O’Connor said that the collapse of the vital bridge could effect traffic in the area for years: ‘This is a vital road, artery, in our area,’ he said.

    A passerby takes pictures of the aftermath of the bridge collapse which resulted in 10 injuries and no fatalities, according to officials

    A passerby takes pictures of the aftermath of the bridge collapse which resulted in 10 injuries and no fatalities, according to officials

    The Fern Hollow bridge was vital to connecting the Eastern community in Squirrel Hill into the city of Pittsburgh

    The Fern Hollow bridge was vital to connecting the Eastern community in Squirrel Hill into the city of Pittsburgh

    The deck' condition was rated '4 - Poor,' the superstructure condition was also '4 - Poor,' and the substructure condition was rated '6 - Satisfactory,' by the Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory.

    The deck’ condition was rated ‘4 – Poor,’ the superstructure condition was also ‘4 – Poor,’ and the substructure condition was rated ‘6 – Satisfactory,’ by the Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory.

    The bridge, located about a quarter-mile from the Reynolds Street entrance to Frick Park, goes over a wooded ravine and a creek that are part of the park

    The bridge, located about a quarter-mile from the Reynolds Street entrance to Frick Park, goes over a wooded ravine and a creek that are part of the park

    At the time of the collapse, there were just four vehicles on the bridge, Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said

    At the time of the collapse, there were just four vehicles on the bridge, Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said

    A commuter bus with three people and the driver on board is perched upright on the wreckage of the collapsed bridge in Pittsburgh's Frick Park neighborhood.

    A commuter bus with three people and the driver on board is perched upright on the wreckage of the collapsed bridge in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park neighborhood.

    A photo from the scene shows the commuter bus upright on a section of the collapsed bridge while another vehicle is shown dangling near the edge

    A photo from the scene shows the commuter bus upright on a section of the collapsed bridge while another vehicle is shown dangling near the edge

    The steel span, built in 1970, carried about 14,500 vehicles a day and is posted with a 26-ton weight limit, collapsed Friday morning

    The steel span, built in 1970, carried about 14,500 vehicles a day and is posted with a 26-ton weight limit, collapsed Friday morning

    The bus and several cars went down with the bridge when it collapsed around 6am.

    The bus and several cars went down with the bridge when it collapsed around 6am. 

    The steel span carried about 14,500 vehicles a day and had a posted a 26-ton weight limit because of its poor condition.

    However, at the time of the collapse, there were just four vehicles on the bridge, Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said.

    He added that everyone who had been trapped was rescued by crew who had to rappel 100 to 150 feet down the ravine to rescue motorists.

    ‘They also did like a daisy chain with just hands, grabbing people and pulling them up,’ Jones said.

    Authorities reported 10 minor injuries but no fatalities. Three people were taken to hospital. 

    Crews say two people who were on the bus were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and the other injuries are obtained by safety crew members who slipped or fell during the rescue. 

    Fern Hollow Bride collapse 

    The two-lane span, on Forbes Avenue over Fern Hollow Creek in Frick Park – one of Pittsburgh’s largest parks opened in 1973.

    The steel span carried about 14,500 vehicles a day and had a posted a 26-ton weight limit because of its poor condition. 

    It is not yet known what caused the span to give out, but it is one of 123 bridges rated ‘poor’ in Allegheny County, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory.

    A September 2019 inspection of the city-owned bridge revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory.

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    City officials said the collapse caused a gas leak but the gas has since been shut off. 

    The bridge, located about a quarter-mile from the Reynolds Street entrance to Frick Park, goes over a wooded ravine and a creek that are part of the park. 

    People were in the park around the time of the collapse, but authorities have not reported any injuries from those on the trail.

    Lt. Gov. John Fetterman visited the site and called it ‘just an awful, surreal scene.’

    ‘This collapse is just the latest in a long line of preventable, man-made disasters that prove what so many of us in Pennsylvania and around the country have been saying for years: Our infrastructure is failing our people. Our roads and bridges, which are supposed to connect us and bring us together, are increasingly putting us in danger,’ he said. 

    ‘I hope it’s a wake-up call to the nation that we need to make these infrastructure investments,’ Fetterman added.  

    Pennsylvania’s bridges were ranked the fifth-worst in the nation in 2020, by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association in its most recent annual survey, the Washington Post reported.    

    The state had almost 12,000 bridges in need of repair, according to the group’s analysis of federal data.

    Biden’s new infrastructure law includes $27 billion in funding to help states and cities fix aging bridges, with Pennsylvania set to receive $1.6 billion of that money in the next five years, the Post reported. 

    Councilman Corey O’Connor told CBS Pittsburgh that the collapse of the vital bridge could effect traffic in the area for years.

    ‘This is a vital road, artery, in our area,’ he said. ‘This is a road that a lot use in the east end, going around the tunnel. We’re looking at a couple-year closure here possibly.’

    Fetterman said the bridge was vital to connecting the Eastern community in Squirrel Hill into the city of Pittsburgh. 

    Howard Seltman, 67, who lives nearby on Briarcliff Road, called 911 after he heard the collapse.

    ‘That bridge carries a lot of traffic every day,’ he told triblive.com. ‘How does this happen?’

    Neighbor Wendy Stroh, who lives nearby, told CBS Pittsburgh that the collapse sounded like ‘a huge snow plow … pushing along the surface with no snow’. She added: ‘I didn’t know what it was … It was very frightening.’ 

    After reports of a strong smell of gas in the air a natural gas line was cut and nearby homes were evacuated, Pittsburgh Public Safety said.  

    Authorities told motorists to avoid the area.

    In a statement, the White House said Biden would proceed with his planned trip to Pittsburgh.

    ‘Our team is in touch with state and local officials on the ground as they continue to gather information about the cause of the collapse,’ the statement said. ‘The President is grateful to the first responders who rushed to assist the drivers who were on the bridge at the time.’ 

    As part of his trip, the president will visit the research and development hub of Mill 19, which was part of the infrastructure deal passed by Congress last year, the Washington Post reported. 

    A September 2019 inspection of the city-owned bridge revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory

    A September 2019 inspection of the city-owned bridge revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation´s National Bridge Inventory

    First responders load an empty stretcher into an ambulance at the scene where a bridge collapsed. Authorities confirmed 10 injuries

    First responders load an empty stretcher into an ambulance at the scene where a bridge collapsed. Authorities confirmed 10 injuries 

    Crews say two people who were on the bus were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and the other injuries are obtained by safety crew members who slipped or fell during the rescue

    Crews say two people who were on the bus were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and the other injuries are obtained by safety crew members who slipped or fell during the rescue

    The collapse came hours before President Joe Biden was due to visit Pittsburgh to tout his $1.2 billion infrastructure bill.

    The collapse came hours before President Joe Biden was due to visit Pittsburgh to tout his $1.2 billion infrastructure bill.

    Built in 1970, the 447-foot-long span is rated in poor condition and is posted with a 26-ton weight limit

    Built in 1970, the 447-foot-long span is rated in poor condition and is posted with a 26-ton weight limit

    City officials said the bridge had just been inspected a few months back in September, but did not say if there were any issues discovered during that inspection

    City officials said the bridge had just been inspected a few months back in September, but did not say if there were any issues discovered during that inspection

    The bridge is about a quarter-mile from the Reynolds Street entrance to Frick Park. It goes over a wooded ravine and a creek that are part of the park

    The bridge is about a quarter-mile from the Reynolds Street entrance to Frick Park. It goes over a wooded ravine and a creek that are part of the park

    BREAK DOWN OF THE $1.2T BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

    President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure package into law in mid-November and is now traveling around the country touting its benefits. Biden had hoped to also get his ‘Build Back Better’ bill through Congress, which complimented the infrastructure bill, but with spending for social programs and climate change initiatives. 

     $110 billion for roads and bridges

    $39 billion for public transit

    $66 billion for railways

    $65 billion for expanding broadband internet 

    $25 billion to repair major airports

    $7.5 billion for the first-ever network of charging stations for electric vehicles

    $21 billion to respond to environmental concerns like pollution

    $73 billion to modernize America’s energy grid 

    FUNDING

    $650 billion in funding for the bill comes from existing, planned investments in the country’s roads, highways and bridges

    The remaining $550 billion over the next five years requires new spending 

    Democrats wanted to fund the rest through tax revenues like a new gas tax

    Republicans wanted to raise money through fees issues on those who use the new infrastructure

    The bipartisan compromise, sure to raise heated debate, proposed using $205 billion in untapped COVID-19 relief aid and unemployment assistance that was turned away by some states

     

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