Biden pushes infrastructure law after visiting site of collapsed bridge in Pittsburgh

Biden stopped by the site and spoke to the importance of infrastructure funding.

Just hours ahead of President Joe Biden traveling to Pittsburgh to stress improvements needed for the nation's infrastructure, a bridge in the area collapsed on Friday morning, coincidentally providing Biden an opportunity to tout how his bipartisan infrastructure law provides funding for badly needed repairs.

Before his scheduled afternoon remarks at Carnegie Mellon University, Biden stopped by the collapsed bridge near Pittsburg's Frick's Park. Ten people were reported injured in the collapse, according to local authorities.

He said the collapsed bridge was a prime example of one of the thousands of bridges in need of repair across Pennsylvania -- bridges that would benefit from the billions of dollars in his infrastructure law, including $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania to repair bridges.

"It had been rated in poor condition for the past 10 years," Biden said in prepared remarks. "What you all know, if you don't you should know, there are another 3,300 bridges here in Pennsylvania, some of which are just as old, and just as decrepit -- decrepit condition as that bridge was, including here in Pittsburgh, the city of bridges."

"We've got to get it on with it," Biden added. "We got to move. The next time, we don't need headlines saying that someone was killed when the next bridge collapses."

As Biden arrived at the site earlier, he immediately greeted officials and first responders on the ground. Penn. Gov. Tom Wolf, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman -- clad in a hoodie and shorts, after Thursday saying scheduling conflicts would preclude him from partaking in Biden's visit -- walked up to the edge of the site to see the collapsed bridge with Biden after he greeted first responders.

Asked his reaction by ABC News White House Reporter/Producer Justin Gomez, Biden called it "incredible" and went on talk about the importance of infrastructure funding in towns like Pittsburgh.

"First of all, these guys deserve an incredible amount of credit here and that -- by the way, when this was going on, they tell me the gas leak was," Biden said, looking to a police officer on the scene. "Explain what you said to me about the noise."

"It was just a very loud -- like a jet engine," the officer said, later adding a jogger stopped after the collapse to help the police get people out of their cars.

"I'll be damned," Biden said.

"It's a miracle, Mr. President. It's a miracle," the officer said.

While the president's domestic agenda has taken the back burner over the past week in the face of threats from Russia on the Ukrainian border and major Supreme Court news, Biden's appearance puts the spotlight back on his victory in getting the bipartisan infrastructure law passed.

The legislation would provide $1.63 billion to Pennsylvania in federal funding for bridges alone, including $327 million this year, the third-highest figure for any state. Pennsylvania has 3,353 bridges in poor condition, the second most after Iowa, according to administration data. The bridge program will provide $27 billion across the country.

"I've been coming to Pittsburgh a long time, and as a former Pennsylvanian, but I didn't realize there are literally more bridges in Pittsburgh than any other city in the world. Did you know that? More than in Venice," Biden said at the damaged bridge site.

"And we're going to -- you're going to fix them all. Not a joke," Biden said. "This is going to be a gigantic change. And there's 43,000 nationwide. And we're sending the money, and by the way, we're gonna get you guys, more money too, the cops," he added.

Pennsylvania, Biden's home state, has long been a politically symbolic state for him.

Pittsburgh was where he kicked off his 2020 candidacy, and the Keystone State ultimately cinched his presidency. He also unveiled what became the bipartisan infrastructure law there last March.

While some of Pennsylvania's high-profile Democratic candidates have praised Biden's infrastructure agenda, two told ABC News earlier this week that while they support the president and his policy efforts, they also wouldn't be in attendance for Friday's event in Pittsburgh, citing "scheduling conflicts."

A campaign spokesperson for Attorney General Josh Shapiro -- who is likely to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee -- told ABC News the attorney general is "focused on the issues that matter to Pennsylvania families" but won't be in Pittsburgh on Friday.

"Like every American should, Josh wants our president to be successful and we'll continue welcoming President Biden to his home state of Pennsylvania as he touts small businesses and jobs that have been saved by the bipartisan American Rescue Plan and the tens of thousands of Pennsylvania jobs that will be created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," the campaign spokesperson said.

Fetterman, a leading candidate in the Democratic Senate primary, had told ABC News Thursday he was planning to be in Harrisburg on Friday meeting with Democrats and talking about the 2022 midterm election before he ultimately joined Biden Friday at the collapsed bridge site.

With Pennsylvania's primary elections are still months away, the unfavorable poll numbers looming over the Biden administration could factor into how Democrats interact with the president on the campaign trail.