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Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse: Investigations Show Local, State Leaders Put Off Work On Fern Hollow Bridge

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- As the intense investigation into what led to the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge continues, the big question is whether or not there were warning signs that were missed.

According to KDKA's news partners at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the state called for the bridge to be inspected more frequently years before the collapse occurred.

bridge collapse
(Photo Credit NTSB Newsroom/Twitter)

It's being reported that the state found enough problems with the bridge to need inspected every year instead of every 24 months.

The city also turned up other needed repairs, but they were not viewed as imminent hazards and were pushed off to future years -- but do not appear to have been completed.

A KDKA investigation also shows a lack of action for the crumbling bridge, which inspectors rated in 'poor' condition for the past decade.

In 2017, inspectors cited 'general structure deterioration and inadequate strength' for the bridge and recommended a restoration project estimated at $1.5 million.

That project was never funded, though the city of Pittsburgh did undertake more than $100,000 of work on the bridge in 2019, after a citizen posted a picture showing rusted out crossbeams and exposed cables.


KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan asked Allegheny County Public Works Director Stephen Shanley if area bridges that are possibly in 'poor' condition are safe to drive on.

When asked if the public should be concerned about riding over these bridges, Shanley said the following:

"No, these bridges are being inspected bi-annually by inspectors who are certified by the Department of Transportation."

As of right now, neither the state nor the city have released details of past inspections to provide a stronger history of the bridge and potentially what went wrong in the morning hours last week.

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