Statement: Pittsburgh bridge collapse highlights need for focus on infrastructure repair and maintenance

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Bridge was in ‘poor’ condition since 2011, according to National Bridge Inventory


PITTSBURGH — Ten people were injured when a bridge near Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood collapsed Friday morning. None of the injuries were reported to be life-threatening. The bridge, which carries traffic over a popular walking trail in Frick Park, had been rated in “poor condition” since 2012 according to the National Bridge Inventory. The collapse occurred just hours before President Joe Biden was scheduled to visit the city to stress the importance of the recently passed $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is, in part, intended to fund repair and maintenance of the nation’s roads, bridges, railways and other transportation infrastructure.

According to the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, of the 617,000 bridges across the United States, 42% of all bridges are at least 50 years old, and 46,154 — 7.5% — of the nation’s bridges, are considered structurally deficient, meaning they are in “poor” condition.

PIRG Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale, who runs PIRG’s transportation program, issued the following statement:

“A structurally deficient bridge is an accident waiting to happen, as today’s tragic incident reminded us. Our hearts go out to those injured and we hope for their swift recoveries.

“While states have spent billions of dollars building new highway infrastructure, this bridge, like too many others across the United States, has lingered in poor condition for too long. The recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides us with an opportunity to correct this course and finally build a safer transportation system for all Americans. We need to approach this historic investment with a ‘fix-it-first’ attitude and repair and maintain the roads and bridges we already have, many of which, like the Fern Hollow Bridge, are in dire need of safety upgrades.”