Built in 1970, the four-lane bridge carries an average of 14,500 vehicles per day
The half-century-old bridge that collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit highlighted the perilous state of much of the United States’ transportation infrastructure, which is due to get a trillion-dollar infusion over the coming years.
Like nearly 44,000 other spans nationwide, the Pittsburgh bridge is rated in poor condition, Volgens die US Department of TransportationSe 2021 national inventory.
Ten people sustained minor injuries when the snow-covered span collapsed into Fern Hollow, a wooded gully, at about 6 am (1100 GMT), authorities said. Several nearby homes were temporarily evacuated after a massive natural gas leak caused by the collapse, which was brought under control.
Built in 1970, the four-lane bridge carries an average of 14,500 vehicles per day along Forbes Avenue, one of the city’s main arteries, according to the US Transportation Department.
Pittsburgh City Council member Corey O’Connor said the toll from the collapse could have been worse. “If it was rush hour, we would be looking at a couple hundred cars down in that valley,” he told CNN.
A “poor” rating does not necessarily mean a bridge is at risk of collapsing, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, but it does mean they should be inspected regularly. The collapsed bridge was inspected last September, the city’s fire chief told reporters.
Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure spending package, the largest such investment in decades, is already providing billions of dollars for upgrades to bridges, roads and transit.
The Transportation Department announced earlier this month that it was distributing $5.3bn to states for bridge repair, a dramatic increase over previous years.
Pennsylvania got the third-largest share, a total of $327m.
That money will come in handy.
Ongeveer 11 per cent of the Northeastern state’s 730,000 bridges are assessed as being in poor condition, according to a Department of Transportation database, nearly twice the national average. Those bridges handle 5 per cent of daily traffic in Pennsylvania.
The state’s bridges were given a grade of D-plus by the engineering society in a 2018 verslag doen. Its roads and sewer, water, and transit systems also received low marks.
The society said the state had made progress since approving a fuel-tax hike in 2013 to fund repairs. The group praised Pennsylvania’s bridge-inspection program, which it said exceeded federal standards.
Pittsburgh, a post-industrial city of about 300,000 people located at the confluence of three major rivers, is known for its steep hills and scenic bridges. City officials have pressed the Transportation Department to make it easier to lower speed limits and improve pedestrian safety.
Karina Ricks, the city’s former transportation director, took a senior job last year with the Federal Transit Administration.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; additional reporting by Rami Ayyub and Katharine Jackson; Editing by Heather Timmons and Jonathan Oatis)