‘Make it in America’: Biden discusses infrastructure after Frick Park bridge collapse


Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor

President Joe Biden visited Pittsburgh on Friday to tout his administration’s investment in infrastructure

By Punya Bhasin, Assistant News Editor

President Joe Biden visited Pittsburgh on Friday to tout his administration’s investment in infrastructure, as well as the City’s work in advanced manufacturing and robotics. His visit came in the wake of a Friday morning bridge collapse in Frick Park.

Biden landed in Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin before taking an unscheduled stop at the site of the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge — which left 10 people injured and seven vehicles, including a Port Authority bus, stranded. He then headed to Mill 19, a research and development facility, in Hazelwood for his scheduled speech.

Photos: President Biden discusses infrastructure following Frick Park bridge collapse

After arriving at Mill 19, Biden toured the facility and lauded the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed last year. He used the Fern Hollow Bridge as an example of the importance of bolstering the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, saying that the poor condition of bridges across the country is “unacceptable.”

“Across the country there are 45,000 bridges in poor condition,” Biden said. “It is simply unacceptable and that is why your governors and members of Congress have been saying for years that we have to do something about this.”

Biden also said the bridge collapse in Frick Park shows poor infrastructure can “threaten lives.” 

“The next time we don’t need headlines saying that someone was killed when the next bridge collapses,” Biden said. “We saw today that it can threaten lives, and as soon as we heard about the bridge we were in contact with the mayor.”

He then touted the $1.6 billion that the infrastructure bill allocates into repairing and rebuilding Pennsylvania bridges.

“We finally got it done, a bipartisan infrastructure law that includes the largest investment in our nation’s bridges since the Eisenhower state highway system,” Biden said. “This is the first time in the country’s history that we dedicated a national program to repair and upgrade bridges, and it’s about time.”

Mayor Ed Gainey, who wrote on Twitter that he spoke with Biden about the collapsed bridge, said at Mill 19 that the president’s decision to visit the site of the fallen bridge showed that he has Pittsburgh’s back.

“As the mayor of the City, it made me feel proud that the President of the United States had our back,” Gainey said. “He said that he will do whatever he can to help us restore that bridge so when we talk about infrastructure dollars, and how important infrastructure is. This is a prime example of why this bill is so important.”

Gainey added that Friday is a “day of celebration” since so many Pittsburghers came together after the collapse.

“Today is a day of celebration, because as always, when Pittsburgh hits a crisis, we pull each other up and when we pull each other up we build a better city for everybody,” Gainey said.

Prior to Biden’s speech, Gina Raimondo, the federal commerce secretary, said the supply chain issue the nation is facing, including a lack of semiconductor chips, highlights an “economic vulnerability.”

“We are far too dependent on countries halfway across the world to get our [semiconductor] chips,” Raimondo said. “That is an economic vulnerability and a national security vulnerability.”

Raimondo further said the country has to increase its manufacturing capability.

“The fact of the matter is, and the president says this all the time, we can’t have a strong economy and a strong country unless we get back into the business of making things in America,” Raimondo said.

Biden said his actions for rebuilding the economy follow a single principle — “make it in America.”

“No one knows that better than all the folks here in Pittsburgh, because making it in America is what built this City, the Steel City,” Biden said.