Both Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Norm Coleman are quoted saying the bridge had been inspected and was fine, no problems… but that’s not what the DOT’s bridge inspection reports said…
Daily Kos has links to the bridge reports HERE.

STrib graphic of bridge.

From the New York Times:


Bridge collapse kills at least 7

August 2, 2007


An Interstate highway bridge in downtown Minneapolis loaded with rush-hour traffic dropped more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River last night, sending at least 50 vehicles and passengers into the water.

Chief Jim Clack of the Minneapolis Fire Department said at least 7 people were killed and more than 60 were injured. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that 9 were dead, 20 were missing and 60 were injured.

Chief Clack said that most of the rescues were made within an hour of the collapse and that 22 of the city’s 26 fire engines responded to the scene. Fire departments from surrounding communities also responded.

“This is a catastrophe of historic proportions for Minnesota,” Gov. Tim Pawlenty said at a news conference about three hours after the collapse.

The eight-lane bridge on Interstate 35W, the main north-south route through Minneapolis, was being repaired at the time, and a witness told MSNBC that he had heard a jackhammer being used on the roadway just before the collapse about 6 p.m. Witnesses said the bridge, which was built in 1967, collapsed in three sections. One section of the bridge lay flat in the river, with cars parked on the rolling pavement.

The collapsed bridge, which was about 1,000 feet long, had been supported by a steel truss structure. Repairs were being made to the bridge’s concrete deck, guard rails and lights, state officials said.

The construction work was being done by Progressive Contractors Inc. of St. Michael, Minn. Tom Sloan, the company’s vice president for bridges, told KARE 11 television that 18 workers were on the bridge at the time of the collapse and by about 10 p.m. 17 of them had been accounted for.

Divers and rescue boats continued to search the river and the twisted wreckage of the bridge as darkness set in and rain began to fall. The Star Tribune said some people were seen floundering in the river, calling for help. The search efforts were suspended about midnight and will resume at daylight.

Leah R. Fulin, 16, of Minneapolis, had just crossed the bridge and was on the Washington Avenue exit when it collapsed behind her.

“Most of the cars that were on the bridge went into the river,” she said. “There was a whole bunch of smoke when concrete breaks like that. There were people screaming.”

Janet Stately was returning from Duluth, Minn., and had decided to take an adjacent bridge to avoid traffic when the collapse occurred.

“I heard an awful noise and saw what looked to me like a piece of the freeway just going down flat,” Ms. Stately said. Then she said she saw the road collapse into a V and cars rolling into the river. “I clearly recall horns honking. I was screaming. We were trying to call 911 on our cellphones.”

Television stations showed a school bus on one section of the collapsed slab, but the back door was open and no passengers were visible. Red Cross officials said 60 children were taken off the bus, 10 of whom had injuries that were treated at city hospitals. A column of smoke curled up from a tractor-trailer near the bus.

“I saw a lot of crying,” Courtney Johnson of the Red Cross told CNN. “Some of the older children were comforting the younger children.” The children were 4 to 12 or 13 years in age, Ms. Johnson estimated.

Berndt Toivonen, 51, of Minneapolis, told The Star Tribune he had been on his way home from a painting job when the bridge collapsed beneath his car.

“The bridge started to buckle,” Mr. Toivonen said. “It went up and it came down. I thought I was going to die.” He was uninjured, but he said people around him, some injured, were screaming in their cars. He told MSNBC that he helped some other people off the bridge.

Dr. Joseph Clinton, chief of emergency medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center, said six patients at the hospital had critical injuries and 22 had injuries that were not considered life threatening. There was one drowning fatality, Dr. Clinton said.

“This is a very busy bridge,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, whose home is nearby. “It’s really right in the heart of the city,” Ms. Klobuchar told CNN. “Thousands of commuters use this bridge every day.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the flow on the eight lanes of I-35W crossing the river was supposed to be restricted beginning Tuesday night for the northbound lanes and at 8 last night, about two hours after the collapse, for the southbound lanes. The reason stated on the agency’s Web site was “overlay work,” which refers to roadway resurfacing.

A 2001 evaluation of the bridge, prepared for the state transportation department by the University of Minnesota Civil Engineering Department, reported that there were preliminary signs of fatigue on the steel truss section under the roadway but no cracking.

It said there was no need for the transportation department to replace the bridge because of fatigue cracking.

Governor Pawlenty said the bridge had an unusual design and was inspected in 2005 and 2006. No structural deficiencies were detected, he said.

Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, told CNN that the bridge had received a “clean bill of health” three years ago. Mr. Coleman said the work on the bridge was a resurfacing project, not uncommon in Minnesota in the summer.

The Minnesota Twins, who play home games in the Metrodome not far from the site of the bridge collapse, had a moment of silence before their game Wednesday night. Team officials decided to play Wednesday’s game after public safety officials decided that sending 20,000 to 25,000 people back into traffic could hinder rescue efforts, the Twins’ president, Dave St. Peter, told The Associated Press. Today’s game against the Kansas City Royals has been postponed, along with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new baseball stadium, according to the Twins Web site.

Cellphones in the area were disrupted after the collapse, possibly because antennas were overloaded with calls. As the toll of the injured and missing rose, a woman who was near the scene of the collapse called a cable network desperate for information: “If Janna or Paul hear grandma’s voice, please call home,” she begged.

The National Transportation Safety Board will send a team of investigators, a spokesman, Ted Lopatkiewicz, said. The board chairman, Mark Rosenker, will accompany the investigators, Mr. Lopatkiewicz said.

Pat Borzi, Jason Skog and Carla Baranauckas contributed reporting.


Out of time — a Motion to crank out then off to the PUC…

2 Responses to “Bridge Collapse — Pawlenty veto of transport funding at work?”

  1. Alan Muller Says:

    Here is part of a post from the St. Paul e-democracy list:

    “The Republicans supported the override of the transportation bill, supported the policy of do not maintain our bridges, our schools and all of our community infrastructure. Instead we have “No New Taxes” for the rich, the poor pay more. Instead we have a ground breaking ceremony for the new government financed new ballpark on the day after the bridge fell. How appropriate that the ballgames was playing as everyday ordinary people and first responders worked to save lives!”

    “How Republican it is to spend on entertainment first, and delay maintenance or use credit to pay for maintenance.”

  2. Sundog Says:

    Sickening. Disgusting. Outrageous.

    Turning this tragedy into a partisan snipe hunt to score political points. Good lord, you folks have no shame. Let’s bury the dead first and give everyone a chance to grieve a little.

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