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Biden returns to Pittsburgh, Pa. after a bridge collapsed there

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President Biden traveled to Pennsylvania today, a state that could decide whether Democrats keep control of the Senate after the midterm elections. He went to look at a bridge that dramatically collapsed nine months ago and to talk about how things are getting fixed. NPR's Barbara Sprunt reports.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Hello, Pittsburgh.

BARBARA SPRUNT, BYLINE: This is the second time Biden has visited Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh's East End. Back in January, he was on his way to the city when the bridge suddenly made headlines.

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BIDEN: On a snowy day, the bridge behind me collapsed 100 feet straight down to Fern Hollow, and five cars and a bus were crossing the bridge at the time.

SPRUNT: Biden made a detour that day to check it out. He said it was lucky that no one died.

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BIDEN: But it never should have come to this. For too long, we talked about building the best economy in the world and the best infrastructure in the world.

SPRUNT: With less than three weeks until the midterm elections, the bridge was a symbolic backdrop for Biden to highlight his administration's investments - more than a trillion dollars to fix bridges, roads, seaports and lead pipes. It's one of the biggest accomplishments from his first two years as president.

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BIDEN: We're finally getting to it. We're getting it done.

SPRUNT: Biden wasn't just highlighting money for bridges. He was also there to support his party's candidate in a tight Senate race, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who attended the event.

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BIDEN: This is law about more than rebuilding infrastructure. It's about rebuilding the middle class, something John knows a lot about and talks a lot about.

SPRUNT: The economy and inflation are top issues for voters in Pennsylvania and around the country, so Biden has been talking about his infrastructure law a lot as he campaigns.

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BIDEN: Instead of infrastructure week, which was a punch line for four years under my predecessor, it's infrastructure decade, a headline on my watch.

SPRUNT: Although the infrastructure law did not directly fund this bridge repair, the White House says its funding allowed Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation to move money quickly to rebuild the bridge without having to slow down other projects. Greg Stahl, a carpenter who's working on the bridge, says it's bringing a lot of jobs.

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GREG STAHL: This investment is putting thousands and thousands of my union brothers and sisters to work from coast to coast.

SPRUNT: After the event, Biden picked up a sandwich from a famous local shop and then was off to Philadelphia to help raise money for Fetterman, who's running for an open Senate seat against TV doctor Mehmet Oz, the Republican who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. And Biden has another trip to Pennsylvania already on the books for next week. But as he previewed the bridge's anticipated completion date later this year, he seemed to add yet another visit.

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BIDEN: And by Christmas, God willing, we'll be walking. I'm coming back to walk over this sucker.

SPRUNT: Barbara Sprunt, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
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