Declarations of emergency from Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Gov. Tom Wolf could help fast-track federal and state money to help pay for the cleanup and construction of the Forbes Avenue bridge over Fern Hollow in Frick Park.
How quickly the process will move along is uncertain, but constructing a new bridge could take about two years and will cost more than $10 million, estimated City Councilman Corey O’Connor, who represents the communities impacted by the bridge collapse.
“Looking at funding, there’s the infrastructure bill at the federal level, but I’m not sure how that money will trickle down to the municipalities,” O’Connor said. “Those conversations are already happening.”
The nearly half-century-old bridge collapsed Friday, injuring 10 people. The National Transportation Safety Board was on-site Saturday investigating the collapse.
Gainey’s office said in a news release Sunday that the mayor would be signing a Declaration of Disaster Emergency.
“This declaration will increase the availability of federal funds, facilitate closer coordination between PennDOT and Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, and expedite the process of cleanup and reconstruction of the Fern Hollow Bridge,” the release said.
The governor’s proclamation of disaster emergency, signed Friday, “hopefully will open up expediting funds for this project,” O’Connor said.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Sunday pledged to help find federal funds to reconstruct the bridge.
“I am committed to working with Governor Wolf, PennDOT and local officials to ensure that we secure funding to repair the Fern Hollow Bridge using emergency funds or funds from the infrastructure law,” he said.
The bridge collapse underscores the need for massive investments in bridge repairs through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Casey added.
O’Connor said he expects the Forbes Avenue bridge project to be similar in process and duration to the Greenfield Bridge project.
That span fell into disrepair, was imploded in late 2015, rebuilt and reopened in October 2017. The project cost about $15.5 million.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .