By Ryan P., Red Phoenix correspondent, Pennsylvania.
In the east end of Pittsburgh on January 28, 2022, just before 7:00 a.m. the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed. Ten were injured, four severely so. This would have been completely brushed under the rug like so many bridge collapses before it if it wasn’t for the fact that Joe Biden was planning to give a speech not far from the bridge on the same day about his plan to increase funding for infrastructure renewal. Yet, despite this dramatic event, little has been done in Pittsburgh to rectify this issue while the working class continues to suffer as a result of the neglect.
Bridges and Pittsburgh is an association that has existed almost as long as the city itself. Without bridges, the land Pittsburgh sits on would be a mix of semi-flooded valleys, ravines, islands, and hills. However, it was not until the late 1800s when American capitalists in the steel industry saw new ways to exploit the geographic location of the city that these bridges really started to be constructed at a rapid rate. Estimates range widely in the number of bridges — upwards of 500 are usually counted — but there are enough that this city gained the reputation of being “The City of Bridges.” However, this might not be the case for long as more and more fall in disrepair and collapse.
There’s been very little if any of the planned work on the decaying bridges of Pittsburgh according to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. This is the very same commission that Gainey has always neglected to meet despite being obligated to do so.
A very recent example of just how horrendous the situation is occurred with the Charles Anderson Bridge located in Oakland Pittsburgh. Drivers who use this bridge can attest to its visibly crumbling state. It should come at no shock that the 85-year-old bridge was set by former Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto to receive $6 million for repairs by 2023. However, current mayor Ed Gainey pushed the bidding for the funding of this project back to 2025 with no clear explanation given. Then in early February 2023 the bridge was closed after an emergency inspection, to the detriment of the thousands of working class Americans who rely on Anderson Bridge for transport. Whether this emergency inspection and repairs will change or factor into the already planned funding further down the line is unclear.
The reason for all this disrepair is simple: the bourgeoisie are no longer concerned with keeping the bridges of Pittsburgh running because they are no longer profitable, like many under-funded infrastructure projects in America. Therefore it is up to the working class to demand and fight for the state to actually rebuild these bridges that they have promised to build. As the bridges of Pittsburgh fall further into disrepair, let this be a message to all working people that even the streets we walk on are not safe if they harm the capitalists’ profit margins.
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