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NTSB says video shows Pittsburgh bridge separating before collapse

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Firefighters look over the edge of the Fern Hollow Bridge after it collapsed in the Point Breeze area of Pittsburgh, Pa., on January 28. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/4c7e4cc33e790e9f12246f5f4a07c372/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Firefighters look over the edge of the Fern Hollow Bridge after it collapsed in the Point Breeze area of Pittsburgh, Pa., on January 28. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- An expansion joint on a Pittsburgh bridge had already begun separating before a span collapsed early this year and injured several people, the National Transportation Safety Board said in an update on the investigation.

The NTSB said it's reviewed footage taken aboard a transit bus that was approaching before the Fern Hollow Bridge over Frick Park in the city's Point Breeze neighborhood collapsed on Jan. 28. Several vehicles were traveling across the bridge deck when it gave way.

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The 21-ton transit bus had two cameras -- one forward- and one rear-facing -- and both were "determined to have investigative value," the NTSB said in a statement on Thursday.

Investigators said that two frames from the video were of particular interest.

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"The first frame is from the forward-facing camera and shows the bridge deck separating at the east expansion joint," the board said. "The second frame is from the curbside camera and shows that, at nearly the same time, the west end of the bridge has already fallen off the west abutment."

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Investigators said they're also studying structural components that were removed from the wreckage, including the use of 3D laser scanning technology.

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Officials at the NTSB and ​​Federal Highway Administration will conduct mechanical and chemical testing on samples from the bridge's leg and several girder sections. They're also planning to check plate dimensions and the quality of welds on the structure.

The board said in its update on Thursday that the new insights have not yet led to any hard conclusions, but that the evidence hasn't yet indicated any "widespread deficiencies." Investigators are also looking into the bridge's safety ratings, which were reported to be "poor" in recent years.

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