US President Joe Biden stopped to visit a Pittsburgh bridge that collapsed hours before he arrived on a scheduled trip to the city on Friday, underscoring the urgency of his drive to rebuild the country's creaky infrastructure.
Standing before concrete barriers papered with yellow police tape, Mr Biden craned his neck to look out over the crumbled bridge.
“The idea that we’ve been so far behind on infrastructure for so many years, it’s mind-boggling,” Mr Biden said.
Friday's bridge collapse — which caused no fatalities but prompted rescuers to form a human chain to retrieve people from a precariously perched bus — offered a striking example of what Mr Biden has declared is an urgent need for infrastructure investment.
A native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Mr Biden noted that the state has about 3,300 bridges, some of which are in poor condition. About 45,000 US bridges are in a decrepit state, Mr Biden said.
The $1 trillion infrastructure law signed by Mr Biden has earmarked about $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania bridge maintenance, with tens of billions more for public transit, motorway maintenance and broadband internet expansion.
Speaking later at a manufacturing research and development centre, Mr Biden promised that money from the infrastructure law would help rebuild the collapsed Pittsburgh bridge and “thousands of other bridges across the country”, but he also expressed urgency over distributing the funding.
“We’ve got to move,” he said. “We don’t need headlines that say someone was killed when the next bridge collapses.”
The morning of Mr Biden's visit, authorities reported that the snow-covered bridge had collapsed near Pittsburgh's Frick Park.
A photo posted on social media by KDKA television showed several vehicles piled in the rubble of the collapsed roadway at the bottom of a wooded gully. At least one vehicle, which appeared to be a bus, was dangling at the edge of part of the bridge. A strong smell of natu