The Importance of Public Works Projects

President Biden was already slated to visit Pittsburgh on Jan. 28, when a 50-year-old bridge near the speech venue picked that day to give way, collapsing under its weight and injuring several people on it at the time.


Luckily none of the injuries were serious and no one was killed. But the tragedy horrifically emphasized the message of the day: the urgency of accomplishing all of those long-deferred infrastructure projects.


“We saw today, when a bridge is in disrepair, it literally can threaten lives,” Biden said, adding that the bridge “had been rated in poor condition for the past 10 years.”


“There are another 3,300 bridges here in Pennsylvania in just as old, and just as decrepit a condition as that bridge was,” he said. “Across the country, there are 45,000 bridges in poor condition.”


Unfortunately for Pittsburgh Local 5 Business Manager Tom McIntyre and Pittsburgh Local 29 Business Manager Kenn Bradley, Biden’s diversion to the bridge collapse site squeezed the time originally set aside to meet with IBEW leaders invited to convene in a VIP tent near the site. They still got a handshake and a photo, though, McIntyre said.


President Biden is fond of Pittsburgh. He chose the city to announce his candidacy for president, and has visited several times since he was sworn in. Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh chose Local 5’s hall for a meeting last year on increasing worker organizing.


“Chances are good he’ll be back,” McIntyre said. “The Secret Service knows this building better than we do.”