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Everything we know so far about the Northeast DC pedestrian bridge collapse

Mayor Muriel Bowser said the bridge was structurally sound early on Wednesday after the incident, a misstatement that now has been admitted by her office.

WASHINGTON — Six people were left injured after a collision caused a pedestrian bridge to collapse in Northeast, D.C. on Wednesday, causing backups on DC-295 (which turns into I-295 in Maryland), D.C. Fire and EMS said.

There were no life-threatening injuries to report and there were no reports of anybody trapped in the debris left along the interstate. The aftermath of the bridge collapse had traffic backed up for miles as drivers are searched for alternative routes to avoid the area.

What you need to know:

  • All roads closed due to the bridge collapse were back open by 2 a.m. Thursday morning, according to a tweet from the Metropolitan Police Department.
  • Just before noon Wednesday, a pedestrian bridge collapsed located at Kenilworth Avenue and Polk Street in Northeast after what is believed to be a collision involving a tractor-trailer.
  • According to D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart, the findings in this investigation are still preliminary. But he did provide a statement that "Bridge 66 was inspected in February 2021 resulting in a May 25 inspection report giving the bridge a rating of poor condition (A number 4 rating)." This update comes after Mayor Muriel Bowser said the bridge was structurally sound early on Wednesday after the incident, a misstatement that now has been admitted by her office.
  • Officials said six people were checked out for injuries and five people were taken to nearby hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
  • A hazmat unit was also on the scene cleaning up a diesel fuel leak from a truck that is partially beneath the bridge.

What exactly happened:

The bridge — located at Kenilworth Avenue and Polk Street, Northeast — collapsed just before noon. D.C. Fire and EMS officials had to help people trapped in cars underneath the fallen bridge, according to authorities.

Officials said six people were checked out for injuries and five people were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart said. D.C. Fire and EMS' hazmat unit was also at the scene cleaning up a diesel fuel leak from a truck that is partially beneath the bridge. 

“Everything we see in the accident scene right now leads to this being a collision pulling the bridge off its mooring,” Geldart said during a news conference on the collapse earlier in the day. 

Geldart's said in a news conference Wednesday evening that the tractor-trailer truck left a construction site near the bridge and had forgotten to lower its boom and collided with the bridge which brought the bridge down. 

Bridge coming down is the result of the truck having its boom up and hitting the bridge, according to Geldart.

How will this impact traffic in D.C. and Maryland?

All roads on DC-295 are now open as of Thursday morning. So traffic will no longer be impacted by the collapse. 

DC-295 was closed Wednesday for several hours while crews investigated the cause of the collapse and cleared debris from the roadway. Officials had previously reported the road was expected to be closed until Thursday evening, but the Metropolitan Police Department tweeted around 1:40 a.m. Thursday that roads had been reopened to traffic.

Credit: WUSA9

Neighborhood and driver reactions:

At least four cars were seen trapped under the debris from the bridge. Officials said at least one other car was struck by the debris.

Neighbors in the area describe to WUSA9 hearing a loud bang and seeing smoke once the bridge collapsed onto DC-295.

Vanecia Matthews was on her way home from a friend's house when she said the bridge nearly collapsed on her car.

“I feel like I would only see that in a movie. Final Destination, literally," Matthews said. "Everything might have happened in like eight seconds. It happened so fast. It snatched the bridge, and I was just watching everything as I'm stopping on brakes."

RELATED: 'Final Destination' | DC driver avoids bridge collapse onto I-295 highway

OK, so what's next? When will the bridge be repaired?

City officials tell WUSA9 that the bridge will have to be taken down in order for crews to efficiently investigate and rebuild it for commuters and pedestrians. 

According to D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart, the findings in this investigation are still preliminary. But he did provide a statement that "Bridge 66 was inspected in February 2021 resulting in a May 25 inspection report giving the bridge a rating of poor condition (A number 4 rating)." This update comes after Mayor Muriel Bowser said the bridge was structurally sound early on Wednesday after the incident, a misstatement that now has been admitted by her office.

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