Biden: We'll Fix That Bridge, Others

There are many more like the span that collapsed, local officials say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2022 5:25 PM CST
Biden Talks Infrastructure After Bridge Collapses
President Biden greets Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey on Friday as he visits the site where the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed earlier in the day.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Biden had planned to give a speech about infrastructure needs Friday at Mill 19, a research and development hub that once was a major metals producer in Pittsburgh, WTAE reports. He did that, but he made a stop first at a place that made his point for him: the remains of a bridge that collapsed earlier in the day. "We saw today when a bridge is in disrepair it literally can threaten lives," Biden said at the former mill, per the Wall Street Journal. "We're going to rebuild that bridge, along with thousands of other bridges in Pennsylvania and across the country because it's in our interest."

At least four people were treated at hospitals after the 50-year-old span fell, per the AP. "It's surreal to see a major artery just collapse into a ravine," said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Monica Layton, who said she's on the bridge twice a day for her commute., was dressing for work when it collapsed. "That was frightening and unnerving," she said. "I could have been on that bridge." Biden spoke with first responders and praised them after rescuers had created a human chain to get people out of a bus that's now at the bottom of a ravine.

"Our infrastructure is failing our people," said Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. The bridge that collapsed was graded "poor" after inspections in 2011 through at least 2017, data show. The state says that's true of 10% of the 25,000 bridges it owns. "It's a snapshot of what is happening to our infrastructure," said Kent Harries, a structural engineer who teaches bridge design. "We have a very large proportion of our structures throughout the Northeast that would be rated poor." Biden said his legislation will send $1.6 billion to Pennsylvania for bridge work, per Politico. The national allocation is $27 billion over the next five years. (More Biden infrastructure plan stories.)

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