By Kate Sullivan and Maegan Vazquez, CNN
President Joe Biden on Friday touted his administration’s efforts to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure in Pittsburgh on Friday, hours after a bridge in the city collapsed.
Hours before the President was set to travel to to Steel City, a snow-covered bridge collapsed and left several people injured. No fatalities have been reported, according to the city’s fire chief, and the cause of the collapse is unclear.
During his Friday afternoon speech at Carnegie Mellon University’s Mill 19, the President pointed out that the bridge which collapsed “had been rated in poor condition for the past 10 years.”
Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city in the world, and Biden said many were “just as old” and in “just as decrepit of condition” as the bridge that collapsed.
“I’ve talked about it every time I’ve come to Pittsburgh. And we finally got it done. A bipartisan infrastructure law,” Biden said, adding that it was time to “move” on rolling out the money.
“We saw today when a bridge is in disrepair, it can literally threaten lives,” he continued. “We’re going to rebuild that bridge along with thousands of other bridges in Pennsylvania and across the country. Because it’s in our interest for our own safety’s sake.”
During his remarks, the President also discussed his administration’s accomplishments and urged Congress to pass legislation that includes investments aimed at surging production of American-made semi-conductors, addressing shortages that have plagued the administration since Biden took office.
“We have an opportunity ahead of us right now. The House and the Senate … are working out a bill that’s going to provide an extra $90 billion for research and development, manufacturing all the elements of the supply chain needed to produce the end-products,” Biden said.
The President specifically pointed to how the semi-conductor shortage impact car prices — a major driver of inflation. And he used his remarks to address the economic costs of climate change.
“Extreme weather is not going to ease up on its own. We have to be ready. That’s why we’re investing in our resilience — building roads higher when we rebuild them, our levees stronger, our power grids more durable so they don’t get blown down and cause massive, massive, massive wildfires,” Biden said.
Biden visited the site of the collapsed bridge prior to his speech.
While at the site, the President thanked first responders and spoke with state and local officials. Biden surveyed the damage and asked about how long it took for the gas to get shut off and whether there were any runners near the bridge when it came down. Officials told him it took about 30-45 minutes for the gas to get shut off and that there were a few runners around, including one who assisted first responders. Biden said he was grateful nobody was killed.
“We’re going to fix them all. Not a joke, this is going to be a gigantic change. There’s 43,000 nationwide. And we’re sending the money,” Biden said, referring to the more than 43,000 bridges in poor condition across the nation. “And by the way, we’re going to give you guys more money too — the cops.”
The President has long talked about the importance of fixing crumbling bridges. Just two weeks ago, he announced a new program to repair and replace bridges in poor condition through funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law. While trying to sell the American public on the need to invest trillions in infrastructure he delivered several speeches in front of bridges that needed repairs.
There are more than 43,000 bridges in poor condition across the country, according to 2021 data from the National Bridge Inventory. Experts have argued that updates and repairs of the nation’s infrastructure could play an important role in moving goods and people across the country more efficiently and could help prevent a future supply chain crisis.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which Biden signed into law in November, includes $550 billion in new infrastructure investments that range from roads and bridges to airports, mass transit, waterways and energy systems. Ahead of the midterm elections, Biden is expected to get out in the country more to tout the benefits of this law, which is one of his biggest legislative achievements since taking office.
This story has been updated with additional developments on Friday.
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CNN’s Betsy Klein, Nikki Carvajal and Sam Fossum contributed to this report.