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Investigation Begins Into Cause Of Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse While Rebuilding Could Take Nearly 2 Years

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The process of investigating what caused Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge to collapse is underway, but it could be almost two years before it's repaired.

The National Transportation Safety Board arrived on the scene around 6 p.m. Friday and laid out its plans. A 13-member team is conducting the investigation.

"Our first order of business is going to be mapping the scene. We have a crash reconstructionist who is on his way, he will be operating our drone to do that and before anything can be moved, we need to map the scene," NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said.

WATCH: Jessica Guay reports

Dennis Hollis, the investigator in charge, said before they begin mapping, they'll coordinate with local agencies that responded to the collapse and recovery efforts.

After that, "we'll begin the process of removing things and it's kind of like peeling the layers of an onion to see where things ended up," Hollis said. He said there are certain signs engineers will look for in the first few days, but right now there's no actual information about what could have caused the collapse.

Councilman Corey O'Connor said it'll easily take six months to a year to repair the bridge, "if not longer."

"To replace this, it's going to be maybe almost two (years), just to be honest," he said. "We have to go clean up, it's more important everyone's safe, that's great, then after that, we have to look at design, engineering, put it out to bid, find funding for it because you're looking at millions of dollars that right now I don't know where that would be in the city budget," O'Connor said.

KDKA-TV's Royce Jones asked O'Connor how much money is in the city's budget for bridge repairs.

"Last year, it was $500,000 for bridge repairs," he said. "I think last year it was bumped up to $1,000,000."

WATCH: Pittsburgh officials brief media

The councilman said the city will lean heavily on funding from the state and the federal governement.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster emergency that he said allows the state to support Allegheny County by making funding available and reducing red tape. He was one of the many officials who gathered at the edge of the collapse Friday afternoon, along with President Joe Biden who was visiting on a pre-planned trip to discuss infrastructure.

Ten people were injured in the crash. While some injuries were serious, they were all survivable. No one was killed.

"I do want to take a few moments because while we are fortunate that there were no fatalities, there were injuries which also can be significant physical injuries, but this was certainly very tragic and something those involved are still processing so we are thinking about those that were impacted by the collapse over the next weeks and months, and our hearts are with you," said Homandy.

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