Daily Column – 29th January 2022

At 6:39am on Friday, the heavily used Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh’s East End collapsed with five cars and a bus on it. Ten people were hurt. When President Biden arrived in Pittsburgh hours after the splinter, he was going to be there to talk about the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that he recently signed into law. This is because irony is real.

The Fern Hollow Bridge was built in 1970 and had a “poor” rating from 2011 to 2017, according to the National Bridge Inventory.

29 bridges in Pittsburgh are in bad shape, and at least 53 have parts that aren’t good.

Engineer Kent Harries told Public Source that just because a bridge has a bad rating doesn’t mean it’s going to fall down.

The Fern Hollow Bridge, on the other hand, was last checked out in September. Those details haven’t been released, and the bridge’s 2019 report said there were problems with the deck and superstructure. The cause of the collapse is still being looked into.

For bridge repairs in Pittsburgh in 2022, the city’s budget is only $7.25 million. Repairs are made on a “worst come, first served” basis. Two experts said it would cost about $458 million to fix all of the bridge problems in the city known for its bridges.

During the flight, Biden told the plane, “Yinz need to make a pit stop.”

The president had to change his plans in Pittsburgh so that he could visit the site of the bridge collapse and talk to first responders and officials. He also used the opportunity to talk about how much money the infrastructure package would give to cities like Pittsburgh to keep their bridges in good shape and fix them.

The law says that over the next five years, more than $27 billion will be spent on fixing the 45,000+ bridges across the country that are in bad shape.

In Biden’s words: “The idea that we’ve been so far behind on infrastructure for so long, it’s mind-boggling to me.”

Administration officials say this programme isn’t just for bridges that are about to fall down. They say it will also hopefully encourage local governments to start working on less important projects sooner.

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