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President Biden on Friday toured the site of a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, which occurred just hours before he arrived to deliver a speech touting his new bipartisan infrastructure law.
The two-lane Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed early Friday, prompting rescuers to rappel nearly 150 feet, while others formed a human chain to help rescue multiple people from a dangling bus.
Officials said 10 people were injured in the collapse. Four were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. There were no fatalities.
“These guys deserve an incredible amount of credit,” Biden said after meeting with first responders at the site.
The bridge crosses over a popular walking trail in Frick Park, about 10 miles east of downtown Pittsburgh.
It’s not clear what caused the collapse. A nearby gas line was severed, but officials are not sure when it occurred.
The bridge, which was built in 1970, had been rated in poor condition in inspections dating back to 2011, Biden said. It was last inspected in September.
“There are literally more bridges in Pittsburgh than any other city in the world,” Biden told reporters. “We're going to fix them all."
In November, Biden signed the so-called bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. The $1.2 trillion package includes funding for roads and bridges, public transit, rail, seaports and airports, as well as clean drinking water and broadband internet.
“We have been so far behind on infrastructure for so many years that it’s just mind-boggling,” Biden said.
The law includes $27 billion allocated specifically for states to repair aging bridges. Pennsylvania is due to receive $1.6 billion of that money in the next five years.
In remarks delivered at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon, Biden said there are 45,000 bridges in poor condition nationwide.
“It's just simply unacceptable,” he said. “We saw today, when a bridge is in disrepair, it can literally threaten lives. We're going to rebuild that bridge, along with thousands of other bridges in Pennsylvania and across the country. Because it's in our own interest.”
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat who is running for U.S. Senate this year, told reporters that he drove on the bridge the day before.
“I hope it’s a wake-up call to the nation that we have to make these critical infrastructure investments and that people are afforded a safe drive to work," Fetterman said. "I’m just grateful nobody was killed.”