A foot bridge at the I- 295 near Polk Road NE collapsed June 23 when it was hit by a truck, District officials said Wednesday afternoon.
Around 11:52 a.m. a truck struck the foot bridge, separating it from mooring, said Acting Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Christopher Geldart at a press conference June 23.
Multiple cars were involved, Geldart said. Five passengers sustained non-life-threatening injuries. All were transferred to hospital.
Geldart said that the collapse was believed to have been caused by the collision. A crime investigation is underway, he added .”We were very lucky, all of us,” Geldert said.
“We are very fortunate that the tragedy on 295 and the overhead pedestrian bridge today did not result in any fatalities. My best wishes and prayers are with the victims who are currently being treated for injuries. We wait encouragingly and expectedly for their full recovery,” said Councilmember Vincent Gray (Ward 7-D).
“It is imperative that we understand how this disaster occurred and implement all precautions to ensure that something like this never happens again. Lives could have been lost,” said Gray. “After a clearing of the roadway and a thorough investigation, we must immediately address pedestrian safety and traffic flow in the nearby neighborhoods of Ward 7. The footbridge is a vital link used by hundreds of people each day to safely cross 295 and connect to the Deanwood Metro station, nearby recreation center, schools, churches and neighbors.”
Roads were reopened by early morning Thursday, but. heavy trains were necessary to move the rubble and damaged vehicles from the area. An estimate of repair and replacement is underway, especially of the moorings, to determine a timeline to rebuild the structure. Geldart said that the District would examine other bridges along the truck path along the 295 to see if any others were impacted.
The bridge height limit, which is 14 feet, is marked prior to bridge entry. Geldert said the truck itself could have successfully passed under the bridge but had a rear container that could be elevated. That possibility is under investigation.
The truck remained trapped under the bridge. Two fuel tanks on either side of the vehicle were ruptured and leaked; DC Fire Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) stopped the leak, and the truck remains in place until it can be safely handled.
There were no structural concerns with the bridge, said Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), which was last inspected in February, 2021, when the moorings were found to be structurally sound. Geldert said this is the first accident of the type in the District where part of the bridge came down. An earlier incident involved cargo falling from a train on a bridge, but the structure itself was not part of the accident.
“While the disaster today appears to be related to driver error, this event is a reminder that the East End of the city needs infrastructure repairs and upgrades,” said the Councilmember. “I have called for funding to make significant and much needed improvements to infrastructure in Ward 7.”