President Joe Biden discusses the details of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan during a stop at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Wednesday, 3/31/21 (C-Span screen capture)
(*This story was updated at 11:18 a.m. on Friday, 1/28/22 to include comment from the White House, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, along with information about road closures in response to President Joe Biden’s visit. Updated at 2:50 p.m. to include additional comment.)
Emergency crews were at the scene of a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, hours ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the region, where he was set to tout the benefits of his federal infrastructure law and other administration achievements.
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According to the Tribune-Review of Pittsburgh, the bridge, which carries Forbes Avenue over the Fern Hollow Creek in the city’s Frick Park, collapsed Friday morning with vehicles, including a Port Authority bus, on the span. The bridge, between South Braddock and South Dallas Avenues, is a central artery to the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
On Friday, the White House said Biden still plans to visit Pittsburgh, States Newsroom Washington Editor Jane Norman reported.
“The President is grateful to the first responders who rushed to assist the drivers who were on the bridge at the time,” the White House said.
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Shortly before 9 a.m, the Tribune-Review reported that 10 people had been injured, none life-threatening, and three people had been taken to hospital. Because they necessitate detours and road closures, presidential visits typically snarl traffic in host cities. On Friday, Pittsburgh Police announced a series of road closures in response to the visit, according to WTAE-TV.
— Shane Dunlap (@shanedunlap) January 28, 2022
BREAKING: A bridge has collapsed in Frick Park, with multiple vehicles falling into the ravine, injuries reported. A natural gas smell in area has also been reported. https://t.co/gK9zgRbRj7 pic.twitter.com/Ekz1G2O6fM
— Ryan Deto (@RyanDeto) January 28, 2022
In a tweet, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey thanked emergency crews for their prompt response.
Today a bridge collapsed near Forbes and S Braddock. I am thankful there are no reported fatalities or critical injuries at this time. Thank you @PghPublicSafety for the quick response and thank you to the county, state, and federal governments for the cooperation and assistance. pic.twitter.com/tTld6t62rn
— Ed Gainey (@gainey_ed) January 28, 2022
Biden is set to visit a research lab in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood, the Post-Gazette reported Friday. Gov. Tom Wolf is slated to appear with Biden during his visit, according to an advisory from Wolf’s office.
Speaking at Biden’s event later in the day, Wolf said the bridge accident could have been avoided with added infrastructure investments. He added that it’s “going to take time” to repair the damaged span, and that work already was underway.
Darrin Kelly, the region’s top labor official and a Pittsburgh firefighter, told WESA-FM in Pittsburgh that the collapse highlighted the importance of the infrastructure law that Biden was to discuss during his visit.
“Things like this should never happen in a country of ours. It’s just surreal to see this in our city,” Kelly told the station. “It underscores how important it is that we realize that it’s everybody’s duty to protect each other and build a stable infrastructure.”
On Twitter, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-18th District, observed that the bridge collapse was a “tragic example of why the #infrastructure bill Congress just enacted is needed. We should be constantly investing MORE in our infrastructure so our bridges and other public works don’t reach this point of disrepair.”
In a statement reported by WESA-FM, Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb said that the bridge collapse was “a reminder that investments in infrastructure are investments in public safety.
“Allegheny County has more structurally deficient bridges than any other county in the nation. If we do not act, events like this will, unfortunately, continue to happen. I’m thankful there was no loss of life this morning, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the public employees who are supporting recovery efforts at the scene,” Lamb said, according to the radio station.
Capital-Star Associate Editor Cassie Miller contributed to this story.
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