The City May Have Been Slow to Implement Warning Signs Before the Fern Hollow Bridge Collapse – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The city of Pittsburgh may have been slow to act on warning signs before the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed.

In its first preliminary discovery, the National Transportation Safety Board found the Fern Hollow Bridge to be damaged on the slopes of Squirrel Hill but ruled out the possibility of aging beams underneath the bridge. While the report said the beams were “severely broken” or prone to failure, no cracks were found in these areas.

READ MORE: The first steps to demolish the empty Fern Bridge are underway

However, the city may have ignored other warning signs and, despite 10 consecutive years of poor inspection reports, did not apply for restoration funding until two years ago and did not designate the bridge as a priority projects.

“There was never a message being conveyed that it was an immediate concern or that there was a concern that it would fall down or anything like that. It’s just another candidate in the systematic process,” said Andy Waple of the Southwest Pennsylvania Committee.

To obtain federal funds to repair the bridges, a project must be approved by the Ten County Commission. In 2017, inspectors citing “general structural deterioration and lack of durability” proposed a restoration project estimated at $1.5 million. But Waple said the city is not asking to include the bridge on the commission’s list of projects until 2019.

READ MORE: Initial NTSB reports indicate that the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge began on the hillside of squirrels

“I don’t know if there were any exchanges between the bridge inspector, the department and the government. I can’t speak to any of that. All I know is that when it was brought to us as a candidate, there was no emergency attached to that,” Waple said.

Citing the NTSB Inquiry, the Gainey administration declined to comment on previous inspections and what was and has not been done at the bridge. KDKA’s Andy Sheehan contacted former Mayor Bill Peduto but received no response.

The NTSB detected four vehicles on the bridge. One in five drivers left the embankment and landed on the roof, and 10 passengers were all injured. Waple said it is looking into this and others to avoid future problems.

MORE NEWS: What happens when demolition, rebuilding begins at the site of the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge

“We’ll be reconvening our next partners, our working group, and looking at ways to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Waple said. The City May Have Been Slow to Implement Warning Signs Before the Fern Hollow Bridge Collapse – CBS Pittsburgh


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