Officials: Bridge not bad enough to close after inspection

Jan 31, 2022, 1:21 PM | Updated: Feb 1, 2022, 1:03 pm

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The bridge that collapsed in Pittsburgh last week showed deterioration during a September inspection that was not bad enough to require its closure, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said Monday.

The agency will not release the full inspection report, PennDOT spokesperson Alexis Campbell said, citing state and federal laws and the ongoing investigation into the Friday morning failure of the Forbes Avenue bridge over Fern Hollow Creek in Frick Park.

Campbell did provide some details about the inspection four months ago, including that there has been a 26-ton (24,000 kilo) posted weight limit on the bridge since 2014.

As with previous inspections, the Sept. 29 examination rated the steel K-frame bridge a 4 on a scale from 0 to 9, which is deemed a poor rating.

“This bridge’s design relies on the quality of frame elements alone without any back-up support (known as redundancy) and reports show deterioration that did not warrant closure, but supported the imposition of a posted weight limit to restrict the weight of loads,” Campbell said in an email.

The structure, built five decades ago, is one of six bridges with similar designs in the state. Campbell said the reasons it failed and collapsed remain unclear and are the subject of investigations.

A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was at the scene Monday as crews siphoned gasoline and brought in cranes to lift five vehicles and a municipal bus off the crumpled remains of the bridge.

By late afternoon the bus had been pulled out of the ravine, attached to a crane by three straps.

There were no fatalities in the collapse, but a few people required hospital treatment, and as of Monday one adult was still getting care inside a UPMC facility, a hospital system spokesperson said.

The daughter of a couple told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review her parents had been crossing the bridge, on their way to provide care for a relative, when their pickup truck plummeted to the ground.

Tyrone and Velva Perry’s windshield cracked and their airbags deployed, Erin Perry said. When Tyrone Perry saw the bridge buckling, he figured he was about to die.

They watched in terror as another car flew by them and a third landed just feet away.

She said the Pittsburgh couple both suffered fractured vertebrae and were in a lot of pain but good spirits. Tyrone Perry sees the collapse whenever he closes his eyes, and Velva Perry still has a feeling she is falling.

“It’s so outrageous that this would happen; it was like a scene from an action movie,” Erin Perry said.

Natural gas lines along the bridge ruptured, causing a large gas leak and evacuation of nearby homes.

After a weekend in which the curious found their way to check out the site, city public safety officials opened an observation area Monday, connected by a trail of less than a mile to a small parking area.

The collapse occurred hours before President Joe Biden arrived in Pittsburgh to tout a federal infrastructure law that has earmarked about $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania bridge work.

Campbell said Monday $25.3 million in National Highway Performance Program funds will be spent to rebuild the bridge.


Scolforo reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


This story been corrected to change the name of a federal agency to the National Transportation Safety Board, instead of the National Transportation Board.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

1 hour ago

Dignitaries, including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, center, break ground on the new ...

Associated Press

Work resumes on $10B renewable energy transmission project in southwestern Arizona despite tribal objections

Federal land managers briefly halted work on the SunZia transmission line earlier this month after Native American tribes raised concerns.

2 hours ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

3 hours ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

5 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

8 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Officials: Bridge not bad enough to close after inspection