Target 11: City of Pittsburgh hires private firm to investigate Fern Hollow Bridge collapse

PITTSBURGH — Target 11 has learned that the city of Pittsburgh has now hired an independent private investigator to conduct a probe into the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse.

The city council approved spending up to $17,500 to CSI Security and Investigations LLC to conduct the new probe.

This new investigation is in addition to the federal investigation already being done by the National Transportation Safety Board.

City Councilmember Corey O’Conner defended the expenditure and the new investigation. He said it will essentially put a new set of independent eyes on the collapse.

“I think having an outside agency not tied into anybody gives us more transparency. It’s better for the city. It’s better for the residents that it’s somebody outside, with expertise to come in and give us that advice. There has to be some outside agency to do investigations, just to see what happened, what we could have done differently, and get some detail for what’s going to happen in the future as well,” said O’Connor, who also said the investigative report will help the city respond to any lawsuits, including one filed by a Penn Hills couple injured in the collapse while riding in their pickup truck. They claimed the city and PennDOT knew the bridge was in poor condition for years.

O’Connor also said he never heard of or saw the inspection report that was completed four months prior to the collapse, which was released by PennDOT last week  heavily redacted, containing pictures of major decay, corrosion and deterioration on the Fern Hollow bridge over Frick Park.

“It was surprising. Obviously, we knew of pictures that had been out there and you know we do fixes on bridges, but I think it also makes us realize that $500,000 to a million dollars a year for infrastructure is not enough,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor also said that the city in the near future will have to spend more money on bridge rehabilitations. He said City Council is currently working on developing a five-to-eight year plan to prioritize infrastructure improvements.

Target 11 reached out to CSI but did not hear back.