Pedestrian Bridge Collapses Onto 295 in DC; 6 Hurt – NBC4 Washington
A collision caused a pedestrian bridge to collapse onto DC-295 in Northeast Washington, D.C., Wednesday, leaving at least five people injured and trapping a truck that leaked gallons of diesel fuel into drains, officials say.
Five people who were in cars nearby 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 also said two people were evaluated but not hospitalized.
The impact of a collision pulled down the bridge about 11:50 a.m. and spurred more crashes. Crime scene and police investigators are trying to determine the cause of the initial crash, Geldart said.
Chopper4 footage shows the bridge on top of three lanes of the roadway. Fencing hangs over three lanes of traffic in the opposite direction.
“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.”
DC-295 is expected to be closed through at least Thursday while officials reconstruct the crash and clean up the wreckage, but that timeline could change, Geldart said.
“Avoid the area,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said. “I’m very thankful for our first responders who got here very quickly.”
Geldart says authorities are investigating whether a truck carrying 500 gallons of diesel hit the bridge, which Geldart estimates is 14 feet high.
City leaders say that truck should have been able to fit under the bridge, but they are going to inspect all other bridges along I-295 that the truck passed under.
The truck was partially trapped under the bridge and leaked about 25 gallons of 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.
Debris including slabs of concrete and metal fencing were seen piled over the wheel of a vehicle at one end of the bridge, which appeared to have completely detached from a staircase and platform.
A car near the bridge had a shattered windshield and bent roof.
A construction worker who was on his way to work told News4 in Spanish that he heard a crack, saw the bridge fall and slammed on the breaks.
“I feel blessed because in that moment you think you’re going to die,” he said.
Photos: Pedestrian Bridge Collapses Onto 295 in DC; 6 Hurt
Firefighters checked for cars underneath the collapsed bridge and initially reported no one was trapped. DC Fire and EMS first reported three minor injuries.
The bridge that collapsed over DC-295 connected Polk Street NE to the western side of Kenilworth Avenue NW near Douglas Street NE.
Officials say the bridge was last inspected in February and there were no structural concerns.
The bridge 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 brought traffic to a halt on the freeway, Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination (MATOC) said.
Traffic backups were reported on DC-295 after the collapse, stretching at least 3 miles northbound and 1.5 miles southbound.
Northbound traffic is diverted to Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue and southbound traffic is diverted to Eastern Avenue, MATOC said.
Editor’s Note: The collapse occurred on DC-295, north of Interstate 295.