All lanes of DC-295 reopened early Thursday in time for rush hour after a pedestrian bridge crashed down onto the roadway Wednesday, injuring at least five people. The most recent inspection determined the bridge was in poor condition.
Lanes were open in both directions between US-50 and the 11th Street Bridge as of 5 a.m., hours earlier than expected.
Investigators believe a truck struck the bridge, causing it to come loose and collapse.
Stunning Chopper4 footage showed the bridge on top of three lanes of the roadway. Fencing hung over three lanes of traffic in the opposite direction. Slabs of concrete and metal fencing were piled over a truck at one end of the bridge, which appeared to have completely detached from a staircase and platform.
The debris bent the roof of a car near the bridge and shattered the windshield.
A construction worker who was on his way to work said he heard a crack, saw the bridge fall and slammed on the brakes.
“I feel blessed because in that moment you think you’re going to die," he said in Spanish.
Photos: Pedestrian Bridge Collapses Onto 295 in DC; 6 Hurt
Five people who were in cars were taken to hospitals with injuries, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart said. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening. DC Fire and EMS said two people were evaluated for injuries but not taken to hospitals.
Officials initially said the bridge was last inspected in February and there were no structural concerns. Later in the day, Geldart said they had misstated its condition.
In April 2019 the bridge was given a 5, or "fair," rating on a national scale from 0 to 9. After it was inspected in February, the bridge received a 4, or "poor," rating.
A rating of 4 is "the threshold that prompts the multiyear planning process to replace the bridge," Geldart said. "During today's initial readout to the media, we misstated the condition of Bridge 66."
The impact of a collision pulled down the bridge at about 11:50 a.m. and caused car crashes. Crime scene and police investigators are trying to determine the cause of the initial crash, Geldart said.
“Everything we see in the accident scene right now leads to this being a collision pulling the bridge off its mooring,” Geldart said, adding that the findings are preliminary. "We do believe this was caused by the collision."
City leaders say the truck should have been able to fit under the bridge that's about 14 feet high.
They said crews would inspect all other bridges along the road that the truck passed under.
The truck was partially trapped under the debris and leaked about 25 gallons of diesel fuel into nearby drains. A hazardous materials team put down a substance to absorb diesel and mitigate the risk to waterways, a D.C. Department of Energy & Environment spokesperson said.
The D.C. Department of Energy & Environment initially said the truck was carrying 500 of gallons of fuel. It's unclear what, if any, cargo the rollback truck was transporting.
The bridge connected Polk Street NE to the western side of Kenilworth Avenue, near Douglas Street. It was flanked by sets of stairs leading to platforms that are still standing. Those must be inspected to see if they're structurally sound after the crash, officials said.
The collapse backed up traffic in the area for miles.
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