Transportation secretary calls for inspection of all steel deck truss bridges
While Minneapolis emergency workers are searching for missing drivers after Wednesday’s collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters is calling on all states to investigate bridges with similar designs. At least five people were confirmed dead on Friday, and city officials say the death toll is expected to rise as divers begin checking more than 50 vehicles that dropped into the Mississippi River around 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday.
Peters said in a statement that states should immediately inspect all steel deck truss bridges — there are approximately 756 around the country according to the Federal Highway Administration — or at least review inspection reports. “Even though we don’t know what caused this collapse, we want states to immediately and thoroughly examine all similar spans out of an abundance of caution,” Peters said.
Also, a seven-member National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Go Team, led by Gary Van Etten and accompanied by NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker, arrived on the scene Thursday morning, but had no information on the cause of the collapse. More than 70 people were injured in the collapse, and the Twin Cities Red Cross is coordinating information on the victims. Information on the victims is available at www.redcrosstc.org.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in a statement that they are closely monitoring the situation. “I am directing every available city resource to guarantee that our emergency response teams work to ensure that nearby infrastructure, streets and bridges are safe,” Ryback said in a statement. “We will also work with our state and federal partners to complete a full and thorough investigation into the cause of this disaster.”
The city is rerouting traffic to circumvent the collapsed bridge and has designated Minnesota Highway 280 as the primary replacement route. More information is available at the city’s Web site, http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/.