Investigators fault Pittsburgh for 2022 bridge collapse

FILE - Four of five cars and a Pittsburgh Transit Authority bus lies in the rubble on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, of the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh that collapsed Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. Federal regulators are about to determine what they believe caused a bridge to collapse in Pittsburgh more than two years ago, sending vehicles plummeting into a ravine and injuring several people. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

By Ashley Adams

February 22, 2024

According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the city of Pittsburgh is to blame for the collapse of the Forbes Avenue bridge in January 2022 which resulted in four people being injured.

The city of Pittsburgh is to blame for the collapse of the Forbes Avenue bridge in January 2022 according to the results of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The city did not adequately maintain or repair the bridge and failed to act on inspection reports, leading to the corrosion of the structure’s steel legs and its collapse into a ravine, federal investigators said Wednesday.

When the city-owned bridge fell, a bus and four cars plunged about 100 feet into the Fern Hollow Creek. Another vehicle drove off the east bridge abutment and landed on its roof. Four people were injured, two of them severely. No one died.

After investigators presented their findings, three members of the National Transportation Safety Board agreed that poor inspections and insufficient oversight were among the probable causes of the collapse.

“The Fern Hollow Bridge collapse should never have happened,” NTSB chair Jennifer L. Homendy said, describing the incident as a wake-up call.

Homendy cited extensive corrosion to the uncoated weathering steel and “repeated failures to act” on damage to the bridge that was known for years. In some areas, the steel had deteriorated to the point of visible holes in the structure.

“The city of Pittsburgh was responsible for inspecting and maintaining the Fern Hollow Bridge,” said NTSB senior structural engineer Dan Walsh. “Similar maintenance and repair recommendations were made in the inspection reports for more than 15 years leading up to the collapse. But the city failed to act on them, resulting in progressive corrosion to the point of failure.”

The office of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said the administration does not dispute the NTSB findings and noted the bridge inspections were performed by consultants. The city has created a new Bridge Maintenance Division and increased funding for bridge maintenance and repairs by 300%.

A new bridge at the site five miles east of downtown Pittsburgh opened to traffic in December 2022.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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