The Lead

Pa. General Assembly extends Fern Hollow Bridge disaster declaration

By: - March 30, 2022 4:02 pm

An Allegheny County Port Authority bus involved in the collapse of the Frick Park Bridge on Friday, January, 28, 2022. (Pittsburgh City Paper photo).

The disaster declaration that Gov. Tom Wolf proclaimed in response to the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse in Pittsburgh was renewed for six months Wednesday by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Pennsylvania Senate voted 48-0 to approve the extension, which authorizes state agencies to use available resources to manage the emergency and waives bidding and contract procedures, until September 30, 2022. The House also approved the measure in a 174-24 vote on Wednesday.

The 50-year-old bridge in Allegheny County collapsed on an early morning in late January, hours before a scheduled visit from President Joe Biden to promote a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan. At the time, four cars and a bus were on the bridge. No fatalities resulted from the collapse, but it further fueled calls to fix deteriorating infrastructure in Pennsylvania and nationwide.

“While we have made significant progress since the collapse of the bridge, much remains to be accomplished in an efficient manner so as to not further disturb life and commerce in the area,” Wolf said in a statement. “Extending the disaster declaration ensures the ability to act quickly and without barriers for the people and businesses of Pittsburgh who rely on this critical infrastructure.”

A disaster declaration from the governor lasts 21 days unless the Legislature grants an extension. The process comes after voters approved a GOP-backed constitutional amendment in the May 2021 primary election to curtail the governor’s emergency powers.

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