Collapsed Pittsburgh bridge is one of 44,000 in poor condition in US

PITTSBURGH (REUTERS) – The half-century-old bridge that collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday (Jan 28) 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, according to the US Department of Transportation’s 2021 national inventory.

Ten people sustained minor injuries when the snow-covered span collapsed into Fern Hollow, a wooded gully, at about 6am (7pm Singapore time), 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 US$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 US$5.3 billion to states for bridge repair, a dramatic increase over previous years.

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Pennsylvania got the third-largest share, a total of US$327 million.

That money will come in handy.

Roughly 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.


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