“Should Have Never Happened”: City Of Pittsburgh Blamed For Catastrophic January 2022 Bridge Collapse

Today in “your tax dollars at work” news, the city of Pittsburgh is being blamed for the collapse of the city-owned Forbes Avenue bridge, which collapsed on January 28, 2022, resulting in several injuries.

An investigation found that the city “did not adequately maintain or repair a bridge and failed to act on inspection reports”, according to a new report from the Associated Press.

When the bridge collapsed in early 2022, a bus and four cars plunged 100 feet into the Fern Hollow Creek below, the report says. Another vehicle also wound up driving off of the east bridge abutment and landed on its roof, AP reported. 

Luckily, no one was killed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board found that “poor inspections and insufficient oversight” were likely the cause of the collapse. NTSB chair Jennifer L. Homendy commented: “The Fern Hollow Bridge collapse should never have happened.”

She continued, noting significant deterioration in the uncoated weathering steel and noted a persistent lack of response to known damage to the bridge, which had been evident for years. 

The report even says that in certain sections, the steel had decayed so severely that holes were visibly present in the structure.

NTSB senior structural engineer Dan Walsh added: “The city of Pittsburgh was responsible for inspecting and maintaining the Fern Hollow bridge. Similar maintenance and repair recommendations were made in the inspection reports for more than 15 years leading up to the collapse. But the city failed to act on them, resulting in progressive corrosion to the point of failure.”

The Pittsburgh Mayor’s office, under Ed Gainey, acknowledges the NTSB’s findings regarding the bridge collapse, highlighting past inspection oversights and announcing the formation of a new Bridge Maintenance Division with a 300% budget increase for upkeep.

Efforts have been made to address critical issues across city-owned bridges, with significant progress on urgent repairs. The collapse, injuring four people hours before President Biden’s visit for an infrastructure event, has led to multiple lawsuits, including one by bus driver Daryl Luciani, who suffered severe injuries.

The city has refrained from commenting on ongoing legal matters.

NTSB investigations attributed the collapse to inadequate maintenance and oversight, including failure to address known drainage issues and structural weaknesses. Despite temporary measures taken in 2009, a permanent solution was never implemented, highlighting systemic failures in the city’s bridge management and inspection processes.

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