​View of collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge from the east.​

​West-looking view of collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge.

Collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge

What Happened

​​On Friday, January 28, 2022, about 6:37 a.m. eastern standard time, the Fern Hollow Bridge, which carried Forbes Avenue over the north side of Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, experienced a structural failure. As a result, the 447-foot-long bridge fell about 100 feet into the park below. The collapse began when the transverse tie plate on the southwest bridge leg failed due to extensive corrosion and section loss. The corrosion and section loss resulted from clogged drains that caused water to run down bridge legs and accumulate along with debris at the bottom of the legs, which prevented the development of a protective rust layer or patina. Although repeated maintenance and repair recommendations were documented in many inspection reports, the City of Pittsburgh failed to act on them, leading to the deterioration of the fracture-critical transverse tie plate and the structural failure of the bridge. At the time of the collapse, a 2013 New Flyer articulated transit bus, operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and four passenger vehicles were on the bridge. A fifth passenger vehicle drove off the east bridge abutment after the collapse began and came to rest on its roof on the ground below. As a result of the collapse, the bus driver sustained minor injuries and two bus occupants were uninjured. Of the six passenger vehicle occupants, two sustained serious injuries, one sustained a minor injury, two were uninjured, and the injury status of one was unknown.​

See additional photos on the NTSB Flickr album​.​​

What We Found

We determined that the probable cause of the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was the failure of the transverse tie plate on the southwest leg of the bridge, a fracture-critical member (nonredundant steel tension member), due to corrosion and section loss resulting from the City of Pittsburgh’s failure to act on repeated maintenance and repair recommendations from inspection reports. Contributing to the collapse were the poor quality of inspections, the incomplete identification of the bridge’s fracture-critical members (nonredundant steel tension members), and the incorrect load rating calculations for the bridge. Also contributing to the collapse was insufficient oversight by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of the City of Pittsburgh’s bridge inspection program.

What We Recommended

​As a result of this investigation, we issued safety recommendations to:

  • the Federal Highway Administration,
  • the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation,
  • ​the City of Pittsburgh, and 
  • ​the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

We also classified one previously issued recommendation to the Federal Highway Administration. 


NTSB Board Meeting - Feb 21, 2024
NTSB Animation – Overview of the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge
NTSB B-Roll: Pittsburgh, PA Bridge Collapse (1/30/2022)