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Bridge collapses in Pittsburgh where Biden was set to talk infrastructure

Ten people were injured in the collapse just hours before a visit by the president that would focus on investing in dated infrastructure.

PITTSBURGH (CN) — In a grim portent to President Joe Biden's planned visit to Pittsburgh on Friday for a speech touting his massive infrastructure legislation, the city saw its Forbes Avenue bridge give way early this morning, injuring 10 people and sending three people to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Photos from the scene in Pittsburgh's Breezy Point neighborhood show mangled vehicles, including one Port Authority bus dangling precariously amid the rubble as passengers were rescued by first responders who formed a human chain.

The cause of the collapse is unknown. Pittsburgh Public Safety announced afterward that they cut a gas line in response to a "strong smell of natural gas in the area."

President Biden had already been set to visit Pittsburgh this afternoon for a speech on his historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes a five-year program dedicated to repairing more than 15,000 bridges across the country.

"The President will proceed with trip planned for today and will stay in touch with officials on the ground about additional assistance we can provide," White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter.

Representative Mike Doyle tweeted that the collapse underscores Pittsburgh and the country's need to address aging infrastructure.

"The Forbes Avenue bridge collapse is a major challenge for our community. It will disrupt transportation in [Pittsburgh] for months at least," Doyle wrote. "This is a tragic example of why the #infrastructure bill Congress just enacted is needed. We should be constantly investing MORE in our infrastructure so our bridges and other public works don’t reach this point of disrepair."

Biden's Pennsylvania visit marks the start of the president's involvement in promoting legislative successes ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Pennsylvania is a key battleground state for Democrats' fight to keep control of the Senate. Biden won the state in 2020 and Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not seeking reelection after two terms in office.

But the Democratic Party's top candidates to replace Toomey and win the state's governorship will not be by the president's side this afternoon, despite invitations from the White House.

Both Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, the frontrunner for the Senate race, and Pennsylvania's Attorney General John Shapiro, a likely candidate for governor, won't be in attendance, citing scheduling conflicts.

Amid Biden's low polling numbers, several Democrats have been crunching the numbers on how associating themselves closely with the president affects their poll numbers.

Representative Steny Hoyer, a top House Democrat, skirted answering whether Democrats facing contentious elections should promote connections to the president.

"I want every Democrat to run as Democrats who deliver," Hoyer told Politico earlier this week when asked directly about "Biden Democrats." 

Stacey Abrams, a Democrat in Georgia and frontrunner for the state's governor race, cited a scheduling conflict when the president gave a speech on voting rights in the Peach State.

Representative Conor Lamb, who is also in the running to be the Democratic nominee to the Senate, will be in attendance for Biden's visit, as well as Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey, who faces reelection in 2024.

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