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Sign indicating bridge ahead is closed.

Four people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries on January 28, 2022, after the Frick Park Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, collapsed. Six others suffered from minor injuries.

Previous inspection reports indicate that the bridge was in poor condition for the last couple of years.

Wear and Tear Visible For Years Before Bridge Collapses

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, six vehicles—including a Port Authority bus—were left stranded when the bridge fell. Witnesses say the collapse happened at about 6:39 a.m. and sounded like a “huge snow plow…pushing along the surface with no snow.”

The Fern Hollow Bridge is between South Braddock and South Dallas avenues and serves as a major artery into Squirrel Hill from Regent Square and Wilkinsburg. Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said it was last inspected in September. But stories surfaced shortly after the collapse showing pictures of rusted and detached smaller supports below the bridge.

The pictures were taken in 2018 by Greg Kochanski, a software engineer, who told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he notified the city at the time. The city reportedly received the message and created a ticket to solve the problem.

Kochanski said he assumed that the city took care of it, but apparently “not sufficiently.” When told that Mayor Gainey said the last inspection took place just months ago, Kochanski expressed surprise, telling the Gazette, “If that’s true, then somebody did a pretty miserable job of inspecting.”

So far, it’s not clear whether any issues were reported during that most recent inspection. But the Associated Press reports that a September 2019 inspection revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, noting “deterioration of primary structural elements has advanced.”

First Responders Rescue Victims from the Bridge

The two-part Port Authority bus was on the bridge when it collapsed, with two passengers and a driver aboard. All were taken off safely.

First responders had to rappel about 150 feet to rescue people from the bus, while other first responders formed a human chain to rescue those left dangling off the bridge. Search dogs and drones were on the scene.

The collapse also ruptured gas lines along the bridge and produced a gas leak that was shut off within a half hour. Residents were asked to avoid the area for a time, and a strong gas smell was reported.

Neighbors stated that the tragedy might have been much worse if not for a weather-related school delay. The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

In November 2021, President Biden signed legislation into law that includes $110 billion to repair and rebuild roads and bridges. He visited the fallen bridge ahead of a pre-planned speech in West Mifflin on the day the collapse occurred.

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