Pittsburgh bridge collapses ahead of Biden city visit to talk infrastructure

By Aditi Sangal and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 4:38 p.m. ET, January 28, 2022
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11:37 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

She was shoveling snow 2 blocks from the bridge when she heard a crash. Here's what she saw.

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

(courtesy Jane Dudley)
(courtesy Jane Dudley)

Jane Dudley was shoveling snow at her house, two blocks from the entrance of Pittsburgh's Frick Park, when she heard a crash just after 6:30 a.m. ET.

After the crash, Dudley heard a loud roaring noise echoing out from the ravine in Frick Park, so she and her husband walked over.

Once there, Dudley saw the remains of the collapsed Forbes Avenue bridge that stretched across the park. It's also when she said she realized the roar was the sound of a broken natural gas pipeline. 

She took the following photos of the collapsed bridge. 

"It’s a major artery to our neighborhood," Dudley said. "It’s the only road that goes over the park."

Here's what Dudley saw when she got to the scene:

(courtesy Jane Dudley)
(courtesy Jane Dudley)

(courtesy Jane Dudley)
(courtesy Jane Dudley)

(courtesy Jane Dudley)
(courtesy Jane Dudley)

(courtesy Jane Dudley)
(courtesy Jane Dudley)

11:08 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

"Our infrastructure is failing our people," Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman says

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who was at the site of a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh this morning, called the disaster a “tragedy" and added that infrastructure can no longer be neglected ahead of President Biden's visit to the city.

“This collapse is just the latest in a long line of preventable, man-made disasters that prove what so many of us in Pennsylvania and around the country have been saying for years: Our infrastructure is failing our people. Our roads and bridges, which are supposed to connect us and bring us together, are increasingly putting us in danger,” he said. 

Fetterman also expressed support for the President’s infrastructure plan. Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks today not far from where the bridge collapsed on strengthening the nation's infrastructure.

“As a result of Biden’s infrastructure bill, the state is now getting $1.6 billion to repair bridges like this one,” he said. “Now more than ever, we need to get to work. We need to make use of the legislation President Biden ushered in, rebuild our roads and bridges, and fix our faulty infrastructure. In Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, and across America, we cannot afford neglect any longer. It’s time to rebuild this nation.” 

10:59 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

National Transportation Safety Board sends team to Pittsburgh bridge collapse

From CNN's Greg Wallace

The National Transportation Safety Board says its sending a “go-team” to the bridge collapse, with chair Jennifer Homendy as the board member on scene.

The team will arrive this afternoon, the board tweeted.

11:28 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

Collapsed bridge had been given overall "poor" rating by Pennsylvania's transportation department

From CNN’s Amanda Watts and Paul Murphy  

Vehicles are seen stranded after the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Vehicles are seen stranded after the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh on Friday. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The bridge that collapsed today in Pittsburgh had an “overall condition” rating of “poor," according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website that tracks bridges across the state.

The bridge was built in 1970, was 447 feet long, and made of a steel rigid frame, the website says.   

The department's website says the deck condition was rated “4 - Poor,” the superstructure condition was also “4 - Poor,” and the substructure condition was rated “6 - Satisfactory.”

During a news conference earlier today, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said it was last inspected September 2021. 

According to the state's Department of Transportation, the “Bridge condition is determined by the lowest condition rating of the primary components of a bridge or culvert.” 

“If the lowest rating is greater than or equal to 7, the bridge is classified as Good; if it is less than or equal to 4, the classification is Poor. Bridges rated 5 or 6 are classified as Fair,” the website explains.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman called the bridge a “vital artery” for the city on CNN’s New Day. 

“This bridge is a vital part of the infrastructure that gets the Eastern community in Squirrel Hill and into the city of Pittsburgh,” he said. “It crosses Frick Park, which is one of Pittsburgh's largest parks, and it's just a vital artery here in the city of Pittsburgh.” 

President Biden is expected to be in Pittsburgh later today to discuss infrastructure. 

“This is a horrible way to underscore just how critical our infrastructure needs are in this country because this is a vital artery in the Pittsburgh area,” Fetterman said. “It literally just collapsed and now we have a situation here… from a transportation standpoint, it's going to be incredibly difficult to imagine getting around the way this was given the bridge that is collapsed.” 

11:20 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

Fire crews rappelled at least 100 feet to rescue victims

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar

Emergency personnel are seen at the edge of the bridge that collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Emergency personnel are seen at the edge of the bridge that collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

First responders used rescue equipment to rappel down about 100 to 150 feet to reach victims of today's bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, Fire Chief Darryl Jones said at a news conference this morning. 

At least 10 people suffered minor injuries in the bridge collapse, three of whom were taken to a hospital.

“It was handled as best as it could be handled,” Jones said of the rescue effort.

Jones said the cause of the collapse is under investigation. 

10:32 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

What the bridge collapse looks like from above

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said in a news conference today that no fatalities have been reported in the bridge collapse. 

Four vehicles were on the bridge when it fell, Jones said. Officials are still investigating what caused the collapse.  

The mayor shared an aerial image of the collapse on Twitter, thanking rescue teams for their "quick response."

See the photo:

CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Paradise Afshar contributed reporting to this post.

9:34 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

Here are the latest details on the Pittsburgh bridge collapse

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar 

A Port Authority bus that was on a bridge when it collapsed on Friday is seen in Pittsburgh.
A Port Authority bus that was on a bridge when it collapsed on Friday is seen in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

The Allegheny County Police Department was notified about a partial bridge collapse after 6 a.m. Friday, Amie Downs, the county's communications director, said in a statement.

Four ​vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse and only minor injuries have been reported, Downs said, adding that a driver of an articulated bus and two passengers were among those rescued with minor injuries.

There was a massive gas leak caused by the collapse, which is now under control, according to Pittsburgh Fire Department Chief Darryl Jones. 

"Several families were evacuated from their homes. They have been allowed back. We are told by the gas company that all their gas service has been restored," Jones said.

There are some reports of people feeling ill in the area from the natural gas, Downs said. They are being treated on scene. 

8:54 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

Biden will proceed with Pittsburgh trip after nearby bridge collapse 

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden is aware of the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, which happened earlier this morning about six miles away from where he is set to deliver remarks on infrastructure and other topics later Friday.

He will proceed with that trip, according to the White House. 

“The President has been told of the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh. Our team is in touch with state and local officials on the ground as they continue to gather information about the cause of the collapse,” the White House said in a statement.

The statement continued, “The President is grateful to the first responders who rushed to assist the drivers who were on the bridge at the time. The President will proceed with trip planned for today and will stay in touch with officials on the ground about additional assistance we can provide.”

8:58 a.m. ET, January 28, 2022

Why Biden's visit to Pittsburgh today is significant, according to the city's mayor

The Pittsburgh bridge collapse occurred ahead of President Biden's scheduled visit to the city this afternoon, where he was expected to deliver remarks on his recently passed infrastructure law. Mayor Ed Gainey said the law is critical for the city.

"This bipartisan infrastructure law, it is critical to southwest Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. We know we have bridges that we need to take care of. We're finding out now when the last inspection was and everything. But with him coming today, to talk about this infrastructure bill, to discuss why this funding is so important, today is significant," he said.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he had received a call from the White House earlier among others, who are all "reaching out to help."