WASHINGTON – A pedestrian bridge collapsed over a highway in the nation's capital on Wednesday, sending five people to the hospital. Traffic was expected to be snarled for hours.
The collapse happened just before noon along Interstate 295 in Northeast Washington. The bridge was found to be in poor condition at an inspection just a few months earlier.
Investigators believe a truck struck the bridge, causing it to come loose and collapse, said Chris Geldart, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice. Several other vehicles were also involved in the collapse. He cautioned that the investigation was still in its preliminary stages.
The five people taken to the hospital had non-life-threatening injuries, Geldart said.
Chunks of concrete and other debris were strewn across the highway, and both directions of traffic were expected to be closed at least until late Friday. The bridge was lying atop the truck, which was leaking diesel fuel along the roadway, officials said.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday afternoon that there were no recent reports of structural concerns about the bridge. But Geldart said in a statement later Wednesday that the mayor's statement was incorrect.
He said that the bridge was inspected in February and that a subsequent report issued May 25 rated the bridge as being in poor condition. He said the rating — a 4 on a scale of 9 to 0 — marked a threshold prompting a multiyear planning process to replace the bridge. The bridge had previously been rated a 5 — in fair condition — in April 2019.
The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the crash investigation, Geldart said.