The Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed last Friday sending four cars and a large accordion bus tumbling into the ravine below. On Monday, workers used a massive crane to raise the Port Authority bus and set it back on level ground. The collapse came hours before President Biden was scheduled to give a speech in Pittsburgh about infrastructure spending.
CitiParks Pittsburgh announced that Frick Park was open to the people of Pittsburgh again, though many were more interested in the observation areas set up to allow residents to watch the bus rescue from a safe distance, CBS Pittsburgh reports.
The dramatic scene played out at about 5 p.m., with crowds gathered at the observation site that city officials just opened Monday on the Squirrel Hill side of Frick Park. Once the bus was in the air, it took about 15 minutes to get it on the ground.
“I had to come see it myself. It’s just crazy. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for people who were here,” said Patrick Bryant at the scene.
The three cars that were also on the bridge when it collapsed were already lifted out before workers attempted to pull the PAT bus out. Officials first thought the massive truck would need to be removed in two sections, but a full afternoon’s work meant they got it all in one go. First workers drained the bus of its nearly 125 gallons of fuel and recovered video from the nine onboard cameras in hopes of investigating the cause of the collapse. It might have something to do with the badly rusting supports on the 52-year-old bridge, which were pointed out in 2018 by a concern citizen, the Post-Gazette reports.
It’s quite the scene and even oddly beautiful and surreal; a giant hulking vehicle hanging in the air in a way it was never meant to, set against a pink winter sunset. Ten people were injured in the collapse, but thankfully none were injured seriously or fatally. The investigation into the collapse is ongoing.
Poor bridge maintenance certainly isn’t a problem confined only to the Rust Belt. U.S. bridges in general received a C grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2021, a downgrade from the C+ rating our bridges received in 2017. The White House points out that 45,000 of the nation’s bridges, as well as 1 in every 5 miles of highway, are in poor condition. The president claims the bipartisan infrastructure bill will pour money into repairing both the most economically significant bridges in the country as well as smaller ones.