Image credits: AP
The bridge was not among the highway and bridge projects targeted for federal funding in Pennsylvania’s 2021 transportation improvement program.
The Pittsburgh bridge that collapsed early Friday, injuring 10 people, was in poor condition and not targeted for improvements under the federal infrastructure bill, state records show.
The Forbes Avenue bridge over Frick Park, a major artery for morning commuters heading downtown, fell hours before President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak in town to promote his administration’s $500 billion infrastructure package.
Pennsylvania is set to receive more than $327 million in federal funding for bridge repair and replacement under the infrastructure plan, with about $49 million going to “off-system,” or local, bridges like the Forbes Avenue bridge.
But the bridge is not among the highway and bridge projects targeted for federal funding in the state’s 2021 transportation improvement program.
City officials haven’t said why the bridge, built in 1970, wasn’t placed on the list for federal infrastructure funding.
The 447-foot, steel, rigid frame bridge had an overall 4 rating and was listed in poor condition, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Ratings range from 0 to 9, with the highest number receiving an excellent score.
Specifically, the bridge was handed a pair of 4s for its deck and superstructure, but the substructure was rated 6, state transportation records show.
Officials are investigating what caused the bridge to give way, the city of Pittsburgh said in a news release. The National Transportation Safety Board is also sending a team to the scene, the agency said on Twitter.
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said the crumbling structure underscores the need for increased bridge funding.
“We need it. This bipartisan infrastructure law is critical to southwest Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh,” the mayor said during a Friday news conference. “We know we have bridges that we have to take care of.”
The Forbes Avenue bridge carries traffic over Frick Park, one of the largest parks within Pittsburgh’s city limits, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said on MSNBC on Friday. The bridge is over a walking trail in the park, Fetterman said.
“Thankfully, no one was on the trail below it. At least as far as we know, no one was on the trails below when the bridge collapsed,” Fetterman said, adding that he drove over the bridge Thursday night. “It’s a critical infrastructure bridge for thousands of Pittsburghers who use it daily.”