Mayor to declare emergency after bridge collapse

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — The mayor of Pittsburgh has announced plans to sign a declaration of disaster emergency for the city in light of last week's collapse of a bridge  in a city park.

Mayor Ed Gainey said the declaration would increase availability of federal funds and speed cleanup and reconstruction of the Frick Park bridge, improving coordination between the state transportation department and the city. 

Gainey said the declaration would be in effect for the next few days but called on council members to extend it. He also he said the city planned to be a party to the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the collapse.

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On Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf had signed a proclamation of disaster emergency for Allegheny County aimed at speeding reconstruction of the bridge, authorizing state agencies to use all resources and personnel to manage the emergency and waiving the usual "time-consuming bidding and contract procedures."

Federal investigators continued work Sunday at the collapsed bridge, which they have vowed to put "under a microscope" to determine the cause. Five vehicles and a city bus were on the bridge at the time of the pre-dawn collapse.

City officials said three people were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries and other people, including some first responders, were treated at the scene for minor injuries. The collapse ruptured gas lines that ran along the bridge, causing a large gas leak and the subsequent evacuation of several families from their homes.

This is a Pittsburgh Transit Authority bus that was on the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh when it collapsed Friday morning Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The collapse came hours before President Joe Biden arrived in the city to promote his $1 trillion infrastructure law, which has earmarked about $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania bridge maintenance.