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At Pittsburgh bridge collapse site, Biden calls state of U.S. infrastructure "mind-boggling"

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Pittsburgh bridge collapses hours before Biden speech
Pittsburgh bridge collapses hours before Biden speech 01:59

A Pittsburgh bridge collapsed Friday morning, sending multiple vehicles and a public bus plummeting into a park below, officials said. Ten people suffered minor injuries and four people were taken to area hospitals, but none of the injuries were life-threatening, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

The collapse happened just hours before President Biden traveled to the area to speak at a previously scheduled event about the $1 trillion infrastructure bill he signed into law last year.

"We have been so far behind on infrastructure for so many years it's just mind-boggling," Mr. Biden told a group of elected officials and first responders during a visit to the collapse site. "...We used to be number one in the world."

Earlier, Mayor Ed Gainey told reporters the collapse highlights the need for the federal funding.

"With him coming today to talk about this infrastructure bill, to discuss why this funding is so important, today is significant," the mayor told reporters.

Officials were grateful no one suffered any serious injuries from the collapse.

"This could have been much worse," Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman told CBS Pittsburgh at the collapse site. Fetterman noted a winter storm delayed the start of schools and kept people off the roads.

Images from the scene showed vehicles piled up amid the rubble. Gas lines running along the bridge ruptured, causing a large leak, and crews shut off the lines, officials said in a statement.

Five vehicles and an Allegheny County Port Authority bus were on the overpass when it collapsed into Frick Park below at around 6:40 a.m., officials said in the statement. Crews were searching the area to see if anyone may have been in the park when the collapse happened.

The bridge was last inspected in September, Gainey told reporters. Fire Chief Darryl Jones said authorities were investigating what caused the collapse.

Vehicles are seen in a pileup after a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on January 28, 2022.
Vehicles are seen in a pileup after a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on January 28, 2022. Jeremy H.
 

Biden says bridge had been in poor condition for years

While delivering remarks at an event in Pittsburgh, President Biden said the over-50-year-old bridge had been rated in poor condition for the past 10 years.

The president noted there are about another 3,300 bridges in Pennsylvania, "some of which are just as old and just as decrepit" as the bridge that collapsed.

Mr. Biden said 45,000 bridges across the country are in poor condition. "It's just simply unacceptable," the president said.

Initiatives in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill he signed into law last year are intended to help repair and upgrade bridges, Mr. Biden said.

"The next time, we don't need headlines saying that someone was killed," he said. "… We saw today when a bridge is in disrepair it literally can threaten lives."

By Alex Sundby
 

At collapse site, Biden calls state of U.S. infrastructure "just mind-boggling"

At the bridge collapse site, President Biden said it was "mind-boggling" how far behind the U.S. has been on investing in its infrastructure. The president made the comments to a group of elected officials and first responders as he surveyed the damage from the collapse.

"We have been so far behind on infrastructure for so many years it's just mind-boggling," Mr. Biden said. "...We used to be number one in the world."

President Biden listens to Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey as they visit the site of a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 28, 2022.
President Biden listens to Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey as they visit the site of a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 28, 2022. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
By Alex Sundby
 

Biden visits bridge collapse site

President Biden is visiting the bridge collapse site shortly after he arrived in the Pittsburgh area for a previously scheduled event.

By Alex Sundby
 

Five vehicles and a bus were on bridge when it collapsed

Five vehicles and an Allegheny County Port Authority bus were on the bridge when it collapsed into Frick Park below at around 6:40 a.m., officials said in a statement. Crews were searching the area to see if anyone may have been in the park when the collapse happened.

Emergency response to Pittsburgh bridge collapse 03:28
By Alex Sundby
 

"This could have been much worse"

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman said it was fortunate that a winter storm hitting Pittsburgh at the time of the collapse helped keep people off the roads.

"This could have been much worse," Fetterman told CBS Pittsburgh at the collapse site. "We were fortunate that there was a public school delay and the traffic could have been much more pronounced."

"I'm just grateful nobody was killed," Fetterman said.

In an interview with CBS News, he described the collapse as "a surreal scene." 

"It's a surreal scene": Pittsburgh bridge collapses ahead of Biden's visit to address infrastructure 05:47
By Alex Sundby
 

Rescuers used ropes and human chain to pull people to safety

Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said rescuers repelled down between 100 feet and 150 feet on ropes to reach people after the collapse. Others formed a human chain to pull people up to safety.

"It wasn't vertical, but it was fairly steep," Jones told reporters.

By Alex Sundby
 

No life-threatening injuries reported

Ten people suffered minor injuries and three people were taken to area hospitals, but none of the injuries were life-threatening, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

By Alex Sundby
 

Vehicle pileup seen amid the rubble

Images from the scene showed vehicles piled up amid the rubble. CBS Pittsburgh reports a gas line runs under the bridge, and officials said the gas line was shut off.

Vehicles are seen in a pileup after a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on January 28, 2022.
Vehicles are seen in a pileup after a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on January 28, 2022. Jeremy H.
By Alex Sundby
 

Biden visiting Pittsburgh later today

The collapse happened hours before President Biden was scheduled to visit Pittsburgh to speak about infrastructure and other topics. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter that Mr. Biden's trip was expected to go on as planned.

By Alex Sundby
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