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A bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed on the day of Biden's planned infrastructure visit

Ten people were injured and three hospitalized after a bridge collapsed early Friday in Pittsburgh's East End.
Gene J. Puskar
/
AP
Ten people were injured and three hospitalized after a bridge collapsed early Friday in Pittsburgh's East End.

At least 10 people were injured when a snow-covered bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed early Friday, just hours before President Biden was due to visit the city to highlight his push for infrastructure improvement.

Pittsburgh Public Safety confirmed the collapse in a tweet just before 7 a.m. ET. The bridge covers a wooded ravine and creek within the city's Frick Park, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A short time later, Pittsburgh Public Safety said there was a strong smell of gas in the area, and confirmed that a gas line had been cut. It added that the Red Cross had been contacted for "victim assistance."

Three of the 10 people who were hurt were taken to the hospital, according to Pittsburgh Public Safety. They described the injuries as non life-threatening.

Fire Chief Darryl Jones said that there was a "massive gas leak, but that is now under control." The families who had to evacuate have since been allowed to return, according to CBS affiliate KDKA.

Several cars and a Port Authority bus were involved in the collapse.

Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph told NPR that the bus was "nearly at the East side of the bridge" when it began to collapse at around 6:45 a.m. Crews helped get the operator and two passengers off of the bus, and none were injured.

"We are extremely thankful that no one from the bus has reported any injuries, and grateful for the first responders who risked their own lives to save others," Brandolph added.

It is not clear what caused the bridge to collapse. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ranks elements of its structure from "poor" to "satisfactory," member station WESA noted.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a tweet that his office is monitoring the situation and prepared to provide support as needed.

The incident occurred on the same day as Biden's scheduled visit to Pittsburgh, where the White House previously said he would visit Carnegie Mellon University at Mill 19 and deliver remarks "strengthening the nation's supply chains, revitalizing American manufacturing, creating good-paying, union jobs, and building a better America, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."

Biden's trip will proceed, the White House told reporters, noting the White House will stay in touch with state and local officials about the cause of the collapse and any federal assistance needed.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told reporters at the scene that repairs would take time.

"This is a major artery, a lot of work needs to be done," he said, according to WESA.

All K-5, K-8, 6-8 and Special Schools will transition to remote learning, Pittsburgh Public Schools said, citing "the impact of a bridge collapse in the East End and a high volume of bus driver call-offs."

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey stressed how important passage of the federal infrastructure plan is for Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, the station added.

"We know we have bridges we need to take care of," Gainey said. "For him coming today to talk about why this funding is so important ... this is critical we get this funding."

This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.